The Association which represents Wheels to Work transport schemes is urging the Chancellor to continue to help unemployed people with transport costs, in his November spending review.
Wheels to Work schemes (W2W) provide a temporary loan of a moped, scooter, bicycle or motorcycle to individuals who are unable to start work or take up training for work, due to a lack of public or private transport. Clients are usually young people, aged between 16 and 25, although in recent years older people have needed transport loans after periods of unemployment. Schemes generate income through charging for the loans but many need to access matched funding to meet costs.
Funding could soon become a problem for Wheels to Work schemes, as the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) will not be available from next year. Many schemes have benefited from LSTF, which was a pot of money made available to local authorities by the Coalition Government, to support growth and cut carbon.
There are currently 45 W2W schemes across the UK, nearly double the number there were in 2013, with others in the pipeline. The Wheels to Work Association is concerned that these schemes will close or reduce numbers, if the Chancellor fails to earmark funding for transport to work and new schemes will not be able to access start-up funding.
The Association’s Chairman, Nigel Dotchin, has written directly to George Osbourne to highlight the practical value of W2W, which helps young people such as apprentices get to and from work, without which they would be unemployed. A loss of W2W would be particularly critical in rural areas, where public transport has been reduced or phased out.
Campaign for Better Transport
The Association has also offered public backing to the Campaign for Better Transport, which is calling for government to create a new ‘transport into work’ programme. This would encourage targeted initiatives, including W2W, which would help people into work, where transport was a barrier.
In his letter to the Chancellor, Nigel Dotchin pointed out how W2W helps meet Government targets for growth: “The schemes are helping to deliver not only the Government’s accessibility agenda, but also contribute to wider policy ambitions such as the apprenticeships initiative, and road safety for those on two wheels.
“It would be a great shame if the Government allowed these schemes to flounder, which would further compound the inequality in employment opportunities for those living in rural areas.”