Spending Review goes backwards on cycling investment, says Cycling UK

The Spending Review 2020 is failing to meet its own commitments and objectives for funding cycling and walking in England, with the wider funding package completely at odds with the Government decarbonisation strategy, Cycling UK campaigns manager, Keir Gallagher said.

The Government has previously said that it would need to spend between £6bn to £8bn over the next five years to meet its targets for increasing cycling and walking in England by 2025, and made a start back in May promising to spend £2bn over the next five years – i.e., at least £400m each year on average. 

“While this fell short of the amount required, it did provide a foundation to build upon and suggested councils would have a degree of sustained funding to invest in thier active travel networks,” said Mr Gallagher.

“With the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic overshading today’s spending review, an optimistic outlook was certainly required for anyone expecting extra spending beyond the £2bn.

“However, it certainly seemed reasonable to expect an increase from this year’s funding (~£300m) to something closer to the £400m needed to keep spending in line with that £2bn commitment, especially given the Government had set out a ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution just one week ago. 

“Instead, in a move completely at odds with both the Government’s prior commitments and the targets they have set themselves, the Chancellor today announced a 15% cut in funding for cycling and walking for 2021/22, with spending reduced to just £257m,” he added.

Mr Gallager said the move will leave councils struggling to invest in planned cycling and walking networks, and raises serious questions as to how the Government will meet it’s £2bn spending commitment by 2025 without significantly ramping up spending in 2022/3.

Responding to the announcement, Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of advocacy and campaigns, said: 

“The Government’s ‘Gear Change’ document released in the summer set out a bold vison for cycling and walking in England, but neither that nor the promised ‘Green Revolution’ can be delivered without substantially increasing investment. 

“The £257 million set aside for active travel next year is less than 1% of the £27.4 billion roads budget the Government remains stubbornly wedded to. Reducing next year’s funding by around £45 million makes the delivery of the Government’s own targets to increase levels of cycling and walking almost impossible, without the radical shift in transport spending priorities required to decarbonise transport.

“The Government’s vision and stated ambition for active travel are impressive, but this spending review takes us backwards when it comes to delivery.”

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