Minister backs moped and scooter loan schemes as ‘holistic’ solution to rural transport problems but states sustainability and collecting data are key to gaining wider government support.
At the Annual W2W Conference in London last month, Rural Affairs Minister Dan Rogerson, MP praised Wheels to Work (W2W) when he addressed a national audience of W2W coordinators and those considering introducing a scheme to their area.
With tough economic times ahead, he explained how the W2W concept was more likely to gain future government support if schemes could be more specific about how a loan of a moped or scooter helps clients.
“Making the case for Wheels to Work to Government departments and others is made easier if we can point to data that illustrates the contribution made by the schemes.”
“Collecting key data about your clients and the ways in which what you do contributes to their lives is also important in helping make the case for Wheels to Work in challenging economic times and I urge you to work with the (Wheels to Work) Association on this.”
Describing himself as a long-time supporter of W2W, the Minister acknowledged the need for W2W schemes, and their rapid expansion from 24 to 38 in just two years:
“As a Member of Parliament for North Cornwall, I am well aware of the transport challenges that people – particularly young people - living in rural areas face, and how these challenges can impact on their ability to access education, training and employment. Seeing schemes develop, expand and flourish is testament to the hard work and focus of you all.”
“For the future, I hope that Wheels to Work is seen by a wider audience to be a part of more holistic solutions to rural transport delivery.”
He also advocated schemes move to a more sustainable funding model, pointing to the example of Devon Wheels to Work, which has replicated its revenue generating activities for a scheme in East Sussex. Both now rely less on funding.
“I was delighted to hear that after only one year of trading, East Sussex Wheels to Work won the Social Enterprise of the Year Award at the Sussex Business Awards. As well as putting their Local Sustainable Transport Fund contributions to good use, the award also demonstrates the hard work and skills of all those involved, and the important role that mentoring and the sharing of best practice can play in promoting new models of sustainability for Wheels to Work.”
National Coordinator Nicky Bassett-Powell, whose post for the last year has been funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Department for Transport (DfT) says these are encouraging messages which must be taken on board:
“We are delighted that the Minister was so positive about Wheels to Work and that he acknowledges the vital role it plays in plugging gaps in rural transport. Cuts to rural bus services will result in even more people needing the services of Wheels to Work, yet funding is likely to get tougher. In order to highlight how cost effective W2W is and how increasingly important it will be to certain groups such as apprentices, the Association will be working with schemes to provide data to convince government and private enterprise partners that W2W is great value for money.”