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Does the vaccine announcement offer hope to Local Authorities and Home to School Transport?
17 November 2020

A new vaccine has been announced which offers almost a 95% effectiveness, this vaccine comes shortly after a vaccine from a US drug company offered a 90% effectiveness against the virus.

This will come as welcome news to councils across the county as they have faced their toughest year ever when dealing with home to school transport. The UK government has advised an initial roll out of the vaccine will take place from the 1st of December though those in higher age groups and healthcare workers will be prioritised.

The article outlining new measures to roll out potential COVID-19 vaccines safely to the public can be found here.

Although no timelines can be given, this future, however distant, will bring some relief to local authorities, as it could eventually mean the end of having to provide safe COVID-19 bubbles, which has ultimately meant less children put vehicle. This could also remove the need for passengers having to wear face masks on transport as this can sometimes prove difficult, especially for those with disabilities.

There are some challenges that lie ahead though, no vaccine roll out for the entire UK population has been announced, with the likelihood being that it may be sometime before those who are eligible for home to school transport will be vaccinated. In August 2020 a Multi-million-pound funding package for school transport was announced, no such announcement has been made for 2021 thus far, meaning budgets are likely to be stretched.

With the end of lockdowns and an improving economy, this will mean there will be extra demand outside of home to school travel for local transport companies. Which means councils may have to deal with inflationary pressures and price increases from their normal transport supply pool to compete with wider industry.

There are several ways Local authorities can combat these future inflationary pressures and reverse prices. Firstly, increasing the number of suppliers in the supply chain will increase competition forcing down costs. Adding pricing controls such as price caps and e-auctions will give power back to councils. Tendering jobs to an increased number of small and medium companies can also help improve the standard of transport meaning better quality for passengers. One way to achieve this is through diligent supplier onboarding, researching the local transport market and finding quality accredited suppliers.

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