SCHOOL bus fares will be more expensive and fewer pupils will qualify for free or cut-price trips under changes approved by Lancashire County Council’s cabinet.

They include a reduction in subsidy the authority makes towards transport to faith schools in its 12 boroughs including Burnley, Ribble Valley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale and Chorley.

There will also be a rise in school bus fares and a reduction in the number of people who qualify for free transport.

County schools boss Matthew Tomlinson promised families on low incomes will still receive support after the changes come into force in September.

The county spends £8.5 million on providing home to school transport, half of which is discretionary and in addition to what is legally required.

Up to 8,750 children will be affected out of 153,300 children in mainstream schools.

The biggest proportion of discretionary spending is for students who attend a Church of England or Roman Catholic school, which is not their nearest school.

A parental contribution of £380 a year was introduced in 2011, which will increase by a quarter, with a year-on-year rise after that based on the retail price index plus five per cent. The county council will still subsidise some of the cost.

School bus fares will increase for those not eligible for statutory transport by up to 60p per return journey.

Other changes include reviewing taxi provision for pupils who live in remote areas not served by school bus routes, reviewing additional capacity on certain school buses and removing a previous eligibility to free transport when parents move house further away from school during exam years.

Coun Tomlinson said: "We remain committed to providing support to families on low income. However, for many years we have provided transport support which is well over and above what the law demands.”