Chancellor’s Budget fails to ‘get cycling done’

Adrian Wills's picture

Chancellor’s Budget fails to ‘get cycling done’

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak today delivered his first Budget, promising a billion pound investment in ‘green transport solutions’ but spectacularly failed to announce a single penny of new funding for cycling or walking.

Cycling UK is hugely disappointed that active travel has been completely overlooked in this year's budget, with no mention of even the woefully inadequate £350m 'cycling and infrastructure fund' promised in the Conservative manifesto.

Following the announcement, Chief Executive Paul Tuohy, said: “It’s beyond belief that the Chancellor has announced £1bn will be spent on ‘green transport solutions’, without a single penny committed to cycling or walking in today’s Budget, leaving English councils outside London with no earmarked money whatsoever to spend on their local cycling and walking network plans from the start of next month.

“Instead, he has announced a staggering £27bn road building programme which will only serve to increase the climate, air pollution, congestion, and inactivity related public health crises threatening this country.

“By its own research, the Government needs to spend at least £6bn to meet its target of doubling cycling and increasing walking by 2025, but sadly it’s become clear its commitment to active travel has been parked in this budget and that’s a huge disappointment.”

By its own research, the Government needs to spend at least £6bn to meet its target of doubling cycling and increasing walking by 2025.

The £1bn investment in green transport appears to be made up of £500m for rapid charge points for electric cars, with another £500m being used to support the purchase of electric cars, vans, taxis and motorcycles.

However, there was no mention of any funding to support the purchase of e-bikes.

There was also no further clarity in the Budget of the £5bn funding for buses and cycling announced by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson in February. Although the Prime Minister's statement appeared to include the £350m manifesto commitment (with off-the-record reports suggesting that the portion allocated for cycling and walking would be at least £1bn). The Budget report confirms (see p46) that there will be no further details on this until the Spending Review later this year.

The lack of any new funding for cycling means that from the start of April 2020, local authorities outside London will not have a single penny of earmarked funding for their Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs), despite all the efforts of local authorities to develop local cycling and walking network plans, supported by the Department for Transport and walking and cycling organisations including Cycling UK.

Cycling UK's Head of Campaigns Duncan Dollimore, said: “Next month, funding for active travel falls off a cliff, with no ring-fenced capital funding available to local authorities for cycling and walking.

Next month, funding for active travel falls off a cliff, with no ring-fenced capital funding available to local authorities for cycling and walking.

“The Government has asked them to produce local cycling and walking infrastructure plans (LCWIPs), but there’s little chance that anything will actually be built when the question of funding keeps getting kicked into the long grass.

“Today’s Budget now sets the Government on a trajectory to fall even further behind on the delivery of its own targets for cycling and walking, targets it has admitted can’t be achieved without significantly increasing investment.

“When dealing with climate, air pollution, congestion, and inactivity related public health crises, it's immediate action that’s needed, not jam tomorrow. Substantial investment to enable more people to walk and cycle, empower choice, and reduce car dependency particularly for short journeys, is one of the quickest, most cost effective and obvious solutions to all of these crises, but tackling them through active travel has been ignored in this budget.”

Ministers have admitted they are currently on course to achieve only 40% of their target to double cycling. Without additional long-term funding, Cycling UK believes the Government may as well admit that its cycling and walking investment strategy will fail, and that it has no deliverable plan to increase cycling and walking.

“Cycling UK desperately want to help the Government to avoid this, but the Chancellor needs to urgently address the underfunding of cycling and walking to do so. If he doesn’t, a golden opportunity to tackle a range of problems with the magic pill that is active travel will have been squandered again”, Duncan added.

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