A £700,000 cut to school and college transport will see families having to pay more towards services, while nursery services will be axed altogether.

Fears have already been been raised that the move by Shropshire Council will hit the county’s poorer families hardest.

The council cabinet is expected to agree to sign off a consultation period into the proposals at a meeting on Wednesday.

It is one of a raft of savings identified when councillors signed off the budget for the next financial year at full council last week.

The cuts would see higher bills for some families, while nursery transport for children with special educational needs will be withdrawn completely.

Some families would see their financial contribution rise from £142.50 to £437.50 a year.

Councillor Roger Evans, leader of the Lib Dem group on the council, said he was disappointed with the proposals.

He said: “Yet again it is a move that will punish those most hard up in our community.

“These cuts are getting worrying and they are hitting the people who are in most desperate need for help the most.

“The biggest point is that the budget was signed off by full council last week, including this cut, so what is the point in a meaningless consultation period if it won’t take people’s views on board.

“It is already approved.”

Currently, the council provides transport assistance for 200 post-16 students to mainstream school, sixth forms or other further educational establishments.

Of the 200 post-16 students receiving transport assistance, 59 students are paying the higher rate of the contribution of £875 and 141 students are paying the lower rate of contribution of £142.50, which is set to rise under the changes.

It also provides transport for 144 special educational needs students, which does not see a contribution made from families. If the plans are approved, a contribution will need to be made.

And it provides transport for 17 special educational needs nursery children for which no contribution is currently required. The council is proposing that this service is axed altogether to save £60,000.

A report going to the cabinet written by Karen Bradshaw, head of children’s services, said the consultation will begin this month if signed off by members.

It says: “The council is committed to providing efficient, integrated transport services whilst ensuring that its statutory duties are met.

“Financial pressures mean that the council has identified a £717,000 savings target attributed to school transport, including those transport functions which are discretionary in nature.

“The council’s passenger transport services have introduced a number of innovative transport solutions to reduce the pressure on the home to school transport budget and whilst these have been and continue to be successful, in order to realise a significant budget reduction a policy change is needed.

“Should cabinet agree to this consultation, the council would undertake a six-week consultation during March and April with various stakeholders.

“Following this period, the results of this consultation would be analysed and compiled before returning to cabinet on May 1 for a decision on whether to adopt this policy.

“Any changes would come into effect from September 1 and will be applicable to new applicants, as with previous practice the removal of provision will be on a phased approach, protecting all those pupils and students entitled within the existing schemes.”