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Minister 'Out of Touch' with youth transport problems in rural areas - Farron

October 5, 2016 4:21 PM

South Lakeland MP Tim Farron has slammed a "dismissive" letter from a government minister condemning students in rural areas to a lack of post-16 options.

Tim had written to the government to express concerns about the high cost of post-16 transport, as well as the lack of available transport for students in particularly rural areas. This year, Northern has decided to remove the student season ticket option on the Lakes Line for post-16 students, meaning that travel costs have quadrupled for some students. The issue is also particularly acute for students in Sedbergh, where there is no state-funded post-16 provision, meaning that students are required to travel elsewhere if they wish to continue studying.

However, in his reply, Education department minister Robert Halfon MP wrote that although post-16 education or training is compulsory, "Young peopleā€¦ have a choice regarding how they participate." He added "It is likely that an individual's choice may well in some circumstances reflect local transport availability."

Tim said: "This kind of dismissive reply from a minister shows that they really don't understand the situation facing young people in rural areas. The minister is completely out of touch - his letter implies that continuing in education after GCSEs will simply not be an option for young people in rural areas. This is completely wrong - he is condemning rural students to a lack of options. The government must recognise that travel can be a massive barrier to the options young people face, and must provide more funding to help rural students."