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Mobility: Finance

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 14 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what discussions he has had with colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government on funding streams for charitable organisations providing accessible vehicles for elderly and disabled people; (142479)

(2) what future funding streams he has allocated for vehicles to assist the elderly and people with disability; and if he will make a statement.

The Department has regular discussions with colleagues in Communities and Local Government (CLG) on many issues including on the important role which local authorities play in acting as an essential conduit for Central Government funding.

The Government are committed to an accessible transport system in which disabled and older people have the same opportunities to travel as other members of society. Its overall transport strategy, as set out in the Transport White Paper “The Future of Transport”, recognised the vital role that extending mobility plays in meeting the wider objectives for the economy and an inclusive society.

Transport provision is largely funded via local authorities who are best placed to deliver the solutions that best meet the needs of local people. For example, to assist these aims the West Midlands region were provided with over £155 million capital funding for both integrated transport and maintenance for 2007-08.

We have ensured, through the introduction of “accessibility planning” into the most recent round of local transport plans, that the needs of socially excluded groups are prioritised.

We have already achieved a great deal to make mainstream public transport more accessible (for example, all new trains, buses and coaches must be accessible to disabled people, including wheelchair users) but the Government’s wider strategy is to devolve decision making responsibility about local service provision closer to where services are delivered, and to encourage the removal of ring fenced funding so that local decisions can increasingly be informed by local context, priorities and need.