Chair of the Environment Audit Committee, Joan Walley MP said:
“It has been nearly a decade since a ground breaking Government report found that problems with transport provision and the location of services can reinforce social exclusion by preventing people from accessing key local services or activities, such as jobs, learning, healthcare, food shopping or leisure. Recent Government statistics found that the number of people that could access these services still varied between regions and between urban and rural areas. Against a background of Government funding cuts and increases in public transport fares, our inquiry will look at whether this agenda has been sidelined and whether the Government now needs to step in to ensure that health, welfare, education and planning policies play closer attention to how people get to the services they need. Accessibility should not be seen as just a transport problem anymore”.
The inquiry will specifically examine:
- How are the Government’s current transport policies affecting the accessibility of public services (i.e. whether people get to key services at reasonable cost, in reasonable time and with reasonable ease)?
- Are other policies (such as planning, education, health, welfare and work etc) adversely affecting the accessibility of public services and the environment? Do decisions on the location of public services adequately reflect available public transport infrastructure and the environmental footprint of the transport needed to access them? How significant are any adverse impacts for accessibility and the environment?
- Is the Government’s current approach of requiring the accessibility of public services to be reflected in local transport plans working? How effective is the Department for Transport in furthering the accessibility agenda?
- How should the transport-related accessibility of public services be measured? How can decision-making in government better reflect ‘social’ and accessibility impacts, alongside environmental and other considerations? Do social and accessibility concerns conflict with environmental considerations? Would a measure of the transport accessibility of key public services, in a similar manner as ‘fuel poverty’, be useful for policy-making (and if so, how should it be defined?)
- The impact of broadband networks and the Internet in mitigating the need for transport infrastructure to access public services.
The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit written evidence, setting out their views on these issues. More wide ranging responses are also welcome. Submissions should ideally be sent to the Committee by 7 September although later submissions may be accepted. Guidance on preparing submissions is set out below.
The Department for Transport has published annual accessibility statistics since 2007. Data for 2010 show that the proportion of people able to access key services by public transport/walking in a ‘reasonable’ time was highest for employment centres (82%) and the lowest was to hospitals (31%). A greater proportion of the ‘urban population’ could access key services in a ‘reasonable time’ than the ‘rural population’. Accessibility also varied by region.
A report in 2003 by the then Social Exclusion Unit found that problems with transport provision and the location of services can reinforce social exclusion by preventing people from accessing key local services or activities, such as jobs, learning, healthcare, food shopping or leisure. The report was mainly concerned with the accessibility of local services and activities (i.e. whether people get to key services at reasonable cost, in reasonable time and with reasonable ease) and identified five barriers to accessing services: the availability and physical accessibility of transport, cost of transport, services and activities located in inaccessible places, safety and security, and travel horizons.
The Transport Studies Unit has recently concluded a research project that aimed to “promote interdisciplinary collaboration and capacity building to better equip researchers, policymakers and practitioners to address the social challenges in transport now and in the future within the UK context”. The work identified a number of gaps in understanding of the ‘social impacts’ of transport and urged greater engagement between research and policy-makers in this area. A study by the Campaign for Better Transport found that UK cities are among the most car dependent in Europe.
Media Information: Nick Davies firstname.lastname@example.org 020 7219 3297/07917488141
For written submissions to the Committee, please note:
Each submission should ideally:
- Begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
- Have numbered paragraphs; and
- Be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.
A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to email@example.com and marked ‘Transport and the accessibility of public services’. An additional paper copy should be sent to:
Clerk of the Committee
Environmental Audit Committee
House of Commons, 7 Millbank
London, SW1P 3JA
It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Please supply a postal address so a copy of the Committee’s report can be sent to you upon publication.
A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:
Guide for Witnesses to House of Commons Select Committees ( PDF 431 KB)
Please also note that:
- Material published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
- Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
- Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
- See DfT’s website: http://assets.dft.gov.uk/statistics/releases/accessibility-2010/accessibility-statistics-2010.pdf
- Social Exclusion Unit, Making the Connections: Final Report on Social Exclusion and Transport, 2003.
- Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. See the TSU’s website:http://www.tsu.ox.ac.uk/research/uktrcse/
- See Campaign for Better Transport’s website: http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/campaigns/car-dependency-scorecard