Transport gets a boost
Scottish Community Alliance
Scotland’s community transport providers held their annual gathering yesterday and heard messages of unequivocal support from Scottish Government. Transport Minister, Keith Brown launched a new £1million fund to enable community groups to purchase the vehicles they need in order to meet the ever increasing demand on their services. The Community Transport Association, the national body that supports over 150 local providers, also received a welcome boost. Its core funding is to be increased by 100%.
A new £1million community minibus fund has been announced by Transport Minister Keith Brown.
The one-off fund for this financial year will help community transport operators buy new vehicles to expand their services or replace older vehicles.
Ahead of his keynote speech at the Community Transport Association’s conference in Edinburgh yesterday, Mr Brown said: “One of the main difficulties for community transport providers is funding for new minibuses, so I’m delighted to announce this new fund today.
“I recognise that help is needed in the short term and this will provide much-needed financial assistance to operators who, as part of the Third Sector, run vital services for remote communities and vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. It will also help mitigate the impact of welfare reform."
“This is a one-off fund for now, but I expect it to provide valuable insights into the sector’s needs which we can use to develop future support as finances permit.
“The Scottish Government is committed to making sure communities across Scotland receive the services and support they need and this announcement reaffirms that commitment.”
The fund will be jointly administered by the Community Transport Association (CTA) and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).
John MacDonald, the CTA’s Director for Scotland, said “This is great news for community transport operators as funding of vehicles is one of their biggest concerns.
“The Scottish Government’s investment will enable voluntary and community organisations throughout Scotland to sustain and grow their vital services for people who cannot access mainstream transport services.
“This initiative was one of the main recommendations from the Scottish Parliament’s Inquiry into Community Transport and we are delighted that the Government has responded in such a positive manner.”
John Downie, Director of Public Affairs at the SCVO, said: “This is excellent news for more than 100,000 people right across Scotland for whom community transport is a vital lifeline which helps them to attend important medical appointments and keep playing an active role in their communities.
“It will help more people to live independently in their own homes for longer and counteract some of negative impact of welfare reforms, particularly on disabled people.
“We’re looking forward to seeing this funding be invested in Scotland’s community transport fleet and the big difference it will make to the lives of older people, people with disabilities and people living in rural areas who don’t have access to a car or public transport.”
Transport Scotland will provide £500,000 for the community minibus fund, whilst another £500,000 will come from the Third Sector budget.
Transport Scotland announced last week that it’s doubling funding to the CTA from November 2013. This will rise from £45,000 per annum to £90,000 per annum. The extra funding will enable the CTA to expand the services it provides, advising and supporting community transport groups.