Panel backs travel grants for students

COUNCILLORS have fully backed a £200,000 scheme to give Calderdale’s poorest students travel grants.

Government payments of between £10 and £30 a week are due to come to an end this summer.

But Calderdale Council Children and Young People Panel has unanimously recommended that money should be made available for 16-18 year-olds who are about to begin their second year at colleges outside Calderdale.

Councillor Barry Collins said if the cabinet approved the plan, it could benefit about 1,000 students who need help with travel costs.

Calderdale students stand to lose more than than most by the Government scrapping Education Maintenance Allowances for transport, books and equipment. That is because 53 per cent of school leavers attend colleges outside Calderdale compared to only 14 per cent in Kirklees, 10 per cent in Leeds and 5 per cent in Wakefield.

Most travel out of the immediate area because Calderdale does not have any suitable sixth form colleges, said Coun Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden).

“The funding for travel passes could come from the £500,000 bus service rebate the council has received from Metro,” said the council’s economy and environment spokesman.

About 3,000 students receive maintenance allowances and there are fears many might abandon their studies when these are scrapped.

If the council provides grants, they will probably only be available for families with an income of less than £20,817 a year.

Any replacement scheme would run for one year only and a student contribution might still be required

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