18 October 2010: Our latest report, in conjunction with Citizens Advice, shows that cuts to bus services would scupper the Government’s plans to reform the welfare system.
This Wednesday we’ll discover the full extent of the Chancellor’s plans to cut public services. It’s likely that support for buses will be one of the hardest hit. If the Government abolishes the Bus Service Operators’ Grant, then one in ten bus routes could face the axe.
This would, quite simply, be a disaster, particularly for a Government determined to reform the welfare system, because transport is already a major obstacle for those trying to find a job. Only one in three people claiming unemployment benefit has a car, which restricts their job search to places they can get a bus to.
It’s not just people looking for work; cuts to services would mean that tens of thousands of people who are currently working would find themselves unable to get to work. Whilst a few may find work closer to home, the majority would find themselves queuing outside a job centre instead of heading off to work.
Politicians may not get excited about buses (remember Gordon Brown’s sarcastic comments about bus cuts?) but they’re the most commonly used form public transport, and a vital part of our transport network. In their eagerness to cut public spending, the Government must be very careful to avoid making rash decisions which come back to haunt them.