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School Initiatives Grant

Volume 458: debated on Monday 26 March 2007

I would like to update the House about the grants to increase walking to school that I announced on 22 November 2006. I have today placed in the House Libraries the grant determination under Section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003 in respect of this grant.

This statement and the grant determination set out how the Department for Transport (DFT) intends to allocate the money for the first year (2007-8).

Funds will go to a total of 3,231 schools. The grant is targeted mainly at primary schools, and more than one in six primary schools across the country will receive this funding. 1,903 schools will receive grants to start or significantly expand walking buses, and another 1,328 will receive grants to set up other walking initiatives. This new investment is expected to see the number of walking buses across England triple.

Funding in years two and three will be dependent on individual schools demonstrating they have saved the required number of extra car trips and expect to continue doing so.

These payments are being made as part of the Government's Travelling to School project to reduce car use for journeys to school. DFT is providing the money and is working closely with the Department for Education and Skills (DFES) and the Department of Health to integrate walking buses and other walking initiatives into the Healthy Schools initiative and promote healthier lifestyles.

The grants will be paid through DFES to Local Authorities (LAs) for onward transmission to the successful school through the DFES Standards Fund. This has been identified as the grant mechanism that is simplest to administer.

The grant determination sets out the amount each LA will receive. The amount distributed to each LA is based on the number of schools in their area that have made the required commitment and demonstrated a reasonable expectation of saving five return trips per school day for a walking bus, which will receive £1,000 a year. Other walking initiatives must save 2.5 return trips on average and will receive £500 a year.

The required number of car trips to be saved is based on an assessment of the number needed to ensure that the scheme represents high value for money, taking account of the environmental, health and other benefits from the walking buses and other walking initiatives.

I am also placing in the Libraries of the House an Explanatory Note, setting out the list of schools that will receive the grants.