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Government allocate active travel funding to local authorities

In April we reported that the government had very quietly removed £200m from the active travel budget. Now, with significantly greater fanfare, the Department for Transport and Active Travel England have announced the allocation of, that’s right… £200m to a range of active travel schemes.

It’s probably relevant to note that this funding was announced in February and doesn’t represent a replenishment of the active travel budget.

men riding on bicycle on road during daytime

The £200m has been allocated to just over 60 local authorities based on the quality of their application and their ‘capability level’. Greater Manchester’s £23,719,500 is the largest of the allocations. 

Capability ratings, which range from zero (awful) to four (exemplary), have been established by each local transport authority self-assessing themselves on local leadership, plans and delivery record as they pertain to active travel. These rating were subsequently validated by Active Travel England.

Explaining why the system has been introduced, the DoT said: ‘Ratings are an objective assessment of each authority’s ability to increase active travel ratings and ensure public money is targeted effectively to deliver the most benefits. The ratings also introduce healthy competition, allow performance to be tracked over time and enable the right type of resources to be offered to increase effectiveness so that maximum value for money is achieved.’

LAs with a zero rating (there are four) are not invited to apply for funding but may be eligible for ‘capability funding’ if they wish to improve. There were no scores of 4 but five local authorities have been ranked 3.

265 individual schemes are benefitting from the funding, examples cited include Tamworth in Staffordshire, which will use the funding to enable active and safe modes of travel to schools, while Barnstaple and Ilfracombe in Devon will see an unused railway track converted into a walking and cycling route to connect rural communities.

Matt Winfield, Executive Director for active travel charity Sustrans said: ‘Today’s allocation of previously committed active travel funding is, of course, welcome news for ambitious local authorities and we’re excited to see their transformational projects take shape.

‘However, the devil is in the detail as active travel funding cuts announced in March mean investment will plummet over the next two years. This will put the UK back years in our collective goal of improving public health, cutting carbon emissions and supporting local economic growth.’

Sustrans also point out active travel funding for 2023/24 is likely to be reduced to £50m, and the same for 2024/25 and on that basis, ‘the Government’s  target of 50% of urban journeys being walked, wheeled or cycled by 2030 will be impossible’.

 

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