COUNTY chiefs have pulled a U-turn on cash help for students aged 16-plus from low-income families.

The council has launched a pilot grants scheme, estimated to cost £247,000 a year, to help with travel costs to sixth-form colleges and school sixth form units.

Last year the local authority stopped paying for transport to college for low-income families when a child reached 16 to save £247,000 as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures.

Then an estimated 368 pupils with parents on income support or Jobseeker’s Allowance received help with transport to college.

The new scheme – which got under way this term – is being run by schools and colleges alongside other bursaries.

Individual grants will be decided by colleges based on strict criteria set by the local authority.

In a statement, Councillor Roy Perry, executive lead member for children’s services, pictured, said: “I am pleased to help remove potential barriers to accessing post-16 education and training which young people from low-income families may experience.

“It will be for education and training providers to administer the funding and young people will be required to meet attendance conditions.”

The new grant comes at the same time as Whitehall axed the education maintenance allowance for students from low-income families and replaced it with a more targeted scheme.

Ministers want 100 per cent of 17-year-olds to be in education, training or employment with education by 2013.

The Education and Skills Act 2008 placed a duty on local authorities to promote participation in education or training for all 16 and 17-year-olds.