HCT Group supports Local Authorities with innovative ‘payment by results’ Travel Training Programme

  • HCT Group’s ‘Independent Travel Training’ scheme will help children with special educational needs (SEN) travel to school on public transport
  • Acquiring this greater level of independence has a huge and lasting impact on the children’s quality of life
  • It can also mitigate Local Authorities’ spend on providing transport to school for SEN children, which costs on average c. £6,000 per child per year (and can be much higher)
  • HCT Group is delivering a new programme in Lambeth using a simple, scalable outcomes contract structure that provides Local Authorities with in-year cashable savings
  • This means that the Local Authority only pays if the training is successful and the child sustains independent travel
  • Bridges will provide up-front funding and ongoing support to HCT Group

HCT Group, the social enterprise bus operator, has partnered with Bridges Ventures to develop a new programme in Lambeth that helps children with special educational needs (SEN) travel to school via public transport – giving the children greater independence while also reducing costs for Lambeth Council.

Local Authorities are currently required by law to provide private transport to school for SEN children, usually via specialist minibuses or taxis. On average, this costs about £6,000 per SEN child per year, equating to a total cost of about £500m per year across the UK – and with an increasing number of children being classed as SEN, this cost is rising.

Travel Training is a proven method for enabling children and young people with SEN to travel independently on public transport rather than using specialist transport – helping to mitigate this cost. Crucially, it also has immediate and lasting benefits for the young person: it improves their ability to access education, after-school classes and social events and, in the longer term, to gain employment. It also has positive benefits for their families, who can manage their affairs more flexibly.

In a UK first, HCT Group will deliver this programme under an outcomes contract, whereby it will only receive payments from Lambeth Council if it achieves specific independence outcomes for the young people. One payment will be made on completion of the course; a second if the beneficiary maintains independence for one term subsequently; and a third if the beneficiary maintains independence for a full year. This should allow Local Authorities to realise cashable savings in the first year of the programme.

The programme will work with up to 200 young people aged 11-19 in Lambeth who are already using or have recently become eligible for SEN transport services. HCT will deliver a tailored programme over a six- to eight-week period, during which the young person will receive personal support and appropriate skills training. Following the course, beneficiaries will continue to receive support to ensure they are able to continue travelling independently.

The Bridges Social Impact Bond Fund, managed by specialist sustainable and impact investor Bridges Ventures (“Bridges”), is providing up-front funding for the programme, and will provide HCT with ongoing management support throughout the duration of the contract. Additional support has been provided by the Big Lottery’s Commissioning Better Outcomes Fund.

Dai Powell, chief executive of HCT Group, said: “Travel Training has a proven track record of helping SEN children learn to travel to school independently – which has a huge and lasting impact on their quality of life. At the same time, it means Local Authorities are no longer exposed to an uncontrollable, open-ended and ever-rising cost. This contract with Lambeth is a big step towards demonstrating that we can deliver these outcomes at scale.”

Andrew Levitt, Partner and Head of the Bridges Social Impact Bond Fund, said: “HCT Group’s Travel Training programme is a perfect example of how social outcomes contracts should be used: it’s tackling an important social problem in a way that provides better outcomes for beneficiaries and better value for Local Authorities. With Lambeth Council’s help, we have developed a very simple, scalable model that delivers cashable savings in year one. We hope this convinces other Local Authorities to get in touch and find out how they can do the same.”


Notes to editors

About Bridges Ventures
Bridges Ventures is a specialist fund manager focused exclusively on sustainable and impact investment, with offices in London and New York. Since 2002, the firm has now raised almost £800m across its Sustainable Growth, Property and Social Sector funds in the U.K. and the U.S. It invests in high-impact SMEs, properties and social sector organisations that are helping to solve some of society’s biggest challenges, with a focus on four key impact ‘themes’: health & wellbeing, education & skills, sustainable living and underserved markets.

About the Bridges Social Impact Bond Fund
The Bridges Social Impact Bond Fund provides up-front financing and management support to help social sector organisations bid for and deliver Government outcomes contracts. The fund was launched in April 2013 with Big Society Capital as cornerstone investor, and has now

About HCT Group
HCT Group is a social enterprise in the transport industry, safely providing over 20 million passenger trips on its buses every year. It delivers a range of transport services – from London red buses to social services transport, from school transport to Park and Ride, from community transport to education and training. It reinvest the profits from its commercial work into further transport services or projects in the communities it serves.