A CUT to transport cash for children starting Catholic education could put the future of the schools at risk, according to church leaders.
From September, those beginning school will not be able to claim help to cover the cost of reaching classes.
The council wants to axe free buses to faith schools, except where legal requirements must be met.
An estimated £1million can be saved through that part of the plans, contested by the Hexham and Newcastle Catholic Diocese, which claims families will struggle to meet the cost of transport.
The church says this could have an impact on the make-up of schools, lead to falling numbers and, in turn, closures.
The plans are part of an effort to save £6million from transport budgets.