COSTS for transporting kids with special needs to school in East Ayrshire has almost doubled.

Taxi costs have surged to over £2 million after the council set an initial budget of £1.1million for the financial year

478 pupils are taken to and from school this year and it costs nearly £24 per pupil for school transport on an average day.

Finance bosses aimed to pay out £1.1 million this financial year but ended up spending £2.17 million instead and this represents an 86 per cent jump in school taxi spend compared to 2015.

A council paper on the issue presented to cabinet said: “Over the past five years increasing costs of additional support needs transport have provided a challenge against a reducing budget.”

It said higher numbers of children “assessed with additional support needs” has led to a spike in demand.

Other causes include a hike in taxi prices and fewer pupils travelling together in vehicles.

The council set up a team called the Additional Special Needs (ASN) Transport Working Group to deal with the huge overspend.

Officials have now decided to increase the budget for additional support needs transport along with other measures to address the matter and they will explore alternative modes of travel with families.

Nine special schools are located throughout the area, but many of the special education hubs are outside the children’s catchment zones so they are entitled to free transport.

All primary age children living at least one and a half miles from their school and secondary pupils who are three miles or more away get free travel from the council.