BSOG escapes spending cuts
BSOG does not feature in the Government’s recent Spending Review 2013 which sets out how £740bn of tax payers’ money will be invested between April 2015 and April 2016. It also details plans to find savings of over £11bn to close the gap between what it raises in taxes and what it spends. In terms of transport, the review sees a 5.5% real terms increase in capital provision for ‘critical transport infrastructure’. DfT will, however, have to make a 9.3% reduction in resource expenditure through more efficiency savings.
CPT’s Chief Executive, Simon Posner, said, ‘We are delighted that the Government has recognised the importance of retaining BSOG. BSOG is a simple, yet highly effective, tool that makes a direct and positive impact on transport. We are pleased that, once again, Transport Minister Norman Baker has demonstrated his deep understanding of, and commitment to, the needs of bus passengers. Measures such as these that help to maintain service levels and encourage people to use their local bus services can only be a good thing.’
Passenger Focus Chief Executive, Anthony Smith, said, ‘Passengers will welcome continued investment in rail and bus services, which will underpin rising passenger revenue. Long term investment is key to keeping passenger satisfaction steady and numbers increasing. What is also crucial is that any changes or new plans are made with passengers’ needs foremost – it is now even more important that spending priorities involve and are focused on passengers.’
CEO of Greener Journeys, Claire Haigh, said, ‘We welcome today’s announcement by the Chancellor that DfT bus spending will be protected from further cuts in 2015-16. This is an important step in ensuring that the UK’s bus services continue to provide a crucial service to the bus users who make 5.2bn trips every year up and down the country. It is particularly welcome for those on lower incomes who are reliant on bus services; over two-thirds of Jobseekers Allowance claimants have no access to their own car or cannot drive and 44% of workless households do not have access to a car or van compared with 22% of all households.’
Commenting on the 10% funding cuts in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Claire said, ‘It is important that bus services do not feel the impact of further cuts and that the Chancellor continues to recognise that the economy, and individual communities, can only return to growth if people can get to work. Accessibility – to places where people work, learn and spend money is vital and that is where the Chancellor needs to invest, not cut.’
Echoing this concern was Chief Executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, Stephen Joseph. He said, ‘We’re glad the Chancellor has listened to us and others and protected bus grants, but the cuts in council funding will see more services disappear and fares increase. Rail and roads are promised long term funding – buses should get it too.’