Government hiding evidence from parliament by suppressing cycle funding report

Government hiding evidence from parliament by suppressing cycle funding report

Cycling UK policy director Roger Geffen calls on the government to publish a suppressed cycle funding report.

Cycling UK has accused the government of hiding evidence from parliament by suppressing a report showing current levels of investment for cycling and walking fall far short of what is needed to get England moving again.

The charity has called for the publication of the report which it believes will show that without a significant increase in funding, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “plan for unleashing our nation of cyclists” is doomed to fail.

Giving evidence at the House of Commons Transport Committee’s inquiry “Reforming public transport after the pandemic”, Cycling UK’s policy director Roger Geffen said:

“The government has sat on research over the last 14 months, and our understanding is that it shows £2bn is only about a quarter to a third of what is needed to meet the government’s own targets to double cycling and increase walking by 2025.

“It’s really important the government is clear about what its targets are and that it publishes the research which shows whether the funding is adequate to hit their targets and then act on the findings of the [suppressed] research as it sets its budgets for cycling and walking in the Spending Review.”

The Department for Transport’s first Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, launched in 2017, laid out the government’s aims to double the number of cycling trips and to increase walking by 2025. Currently cycling makes up just two percent of all trips in England.

Last May, the government allocated £2bn for cycling and walking to meet these aims over the following five years in its vision document, Gear Change, launched by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said to the Transport Committee in February 2021 that £2bn was enough to meet the government’s targets.

Mr Geffen disagreed with this assessment. He claimed the unpublished report, commissioned by the DfT and kept from parliament, will show the government knew £2bn was only a fraction of what is needed to meet their aims.

Pointing out the benefits of more people cycling, Mr Geffen said the government should publish the report and follow its recommendations with a view to increase funding levels for cycling and walking to between £6 and £8bn over the next four years.

“It is very disappointing that spending next year will actually be less on cycling and walking as things stand than what it was last year”, said Mr Geffen. “We’re going in the wrong direction rather than boosting local authorities’ capacity to scale up their abilities to spend at the levels we need to be spending if we’re going to meet the government’s targets.”

To assist local authorities and increase their capacity to spend this funding effectively, Mr Geffen also encouraged government to launch the promised inspectorate Active Travel England, as outlined in Gear Change.

In the Chancellor’s Budget published last week, there was no further funding for cycling and walking in England. In Wales, the Welsh government’s budget published last week allocated a further £50m to active travel measures, while in Scotland a further £15m for cycling and walking was announced yesterday.

Speaking after his appearance in front of the Transport Committee, Mr Geffen said:

“The government has deliberately hidden evidence from parliament by claiming that £2bn would allow them to ‘make strong progress’ against their targets to encourage more cycling and walking. They need to publish the suppressed report and act on its findings as a matter of urgency.”

ENDS

Contact information 

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please call 07786 320 713.

Notes to editors 
  1. Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. For more information on the Transport Committee’s inquiry see: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/470/reforming-public-transport-after-the-pandemic/news/
  3. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said to the Transport committee in February 2021 that £2bn was enough to meet the Government’s targets, both in his oral evidence (see answer to Q57) and in his subsequent letter to the Committee (see para 8).
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