Durham County Council – home to school transport

The challenge

Durham was experiencing rising demand for home to school transport services for children with special needs. Along with increasing costs of supply this was going to create a real budget challenge in the next 12-36 months. The challenge was to establish how to continue to deliver a high-quality service within a constrained budget.

There were fixed criteria for whether applicants for service were eligible. However, we were sure that there was room for creativity in the way the demand was met. We were also sure that a more commercial approach to the commissioning of transport was possible.

The result

Our review established that the council could meet increasing demand and deliver high quality services within existing budgets by focussing on procurement policy and practice, and effectively managing the supply market. This could be achieved without changing eligibility policy and criteria.
There was a healthy market for the supply of taxi services and options to supplement this pool. There were also more creative alternatives that could be developed to supplement the range of supply options.

What made it successful

  • Commercial expertise – We reviewed procurement policy and practice to promote opportunities to influence the supply market and cost of service
  • Results focus – We reviewed future demand and likely usage for the home to school transport service to establish the future cost of service and required budget. We reviewed processes and operational practices to establish opportunities for change. We also reviewed eligibility criteria and policy to establish the impact of changes on demand and cost. We proposed changes that would affect service demand and cost and hence the future strategy and plan for the service.