Text Size

Current Size: 100%

Over £5 billion worth of local transport projects under threat as Department for Transport reviews spending commitments

8 June 2010
Over £5 billion worth of local transport projects in England are under threat from spending cuts, research by the Campaign for Better Transport has revealed.

The upcoming Budget is expected to outline the Department for Transport’s spending cuts over the coming years. If the Government decides to cut local transport spending by 10%, then £2 billion worth of projects will need to be cut.

Cuts of 25% mean that schemes worth £3 billion would need to be cancelled. A 50% cut would leave just £793 million to spend on local transport schemes and mean cutting projects worth £4.4 billion. (1)

Richard George, roads and climate campaigner for the Campaign for Better Transport, said, “With tough times ahead, regions must be careful to fund to the right schemes. They can fund a handful of big projects, which means most areas won’t see any investment for several years, or invest in lower cost solutions which would spread the benefits more widely.” (2)

“Councils should accept that their £100 million road schemes just aren’t viable any more. Instead, they should start looking into more affordable ways to solve their transport problems while working towards UK climate change targets.” (3)




  1. Each of the eight English regions has produced a list of transport priorities, which outlines their spending plans for major schemes over £5 million over the next ten years. This is called the Regional Funding Advice. Each region was told to include 20% more schemes than there was money available for, because some schemes get delayed and not every project gets planning permission.

    In May 2010 the Department for Transport wrote to every local authority that was promoting a transport scheme, advising them that there would be a comprehensive review of all schemes which did not have full planning permission and approved funding – known as ‘Conditional Approval’.

    The total value of all the schemes under review is £5.2 billion. There was originally £5.8 billion available over the next five years, but £2.1 billion is allocated to projects which have already started.

  2. Each region has a different amount of money available.

    The North West is hardest hit, with £965 million worth of uncommitted schemes and just £380 million available to spend. If this is cut by 10%, the region has just £291 million, meaning two thirds of schemes would need to be cancelled. A cut of 25% means just £156 million, making expensive schemes, like the £90 million Mottram Bypass and the £133 million Heysham M6 completely unaffordable.

    The region had planned to fund a portion of its programme by top-slicing local transport budgets – including road safety budgets – from councils in Greater Manchester, but it is highly unlikely that this would go ahead, as these budgets would also be cut by central Government.

    The East Midlands has the most money available, with £458 million worth of uncommitted schemes and a budget of £437 million. It’s most expensive uncommitted scheme, the A453 widening, was recently delayed indefinitely by the Government, leaving more money for other schemes. A 10% cut would leave £367 million, and even a 50% cut would leave £85 million.

    Campaign for Better Transport has published a breakdown of each region’s spending profile on their website: http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/media/jun-4-local-transport-threat

  3. The DfT’s cycling towns project and the sustainable travel demonstration towns both have demonstrated the value for money of these schemes, as well as costing less than the higher-carbon alternatives.