DfT budget to be cut by 30% over four years

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Department is one of four to provisionally agree to spending cuts ahead of the Chancellor’s autumn statement

Chancellor George Osborne has announced that four government departments, including the Department for Transport (DfT), have provisionally agreed to cut their spending by an average of 30% over the next four years.

The cuts are part of measures to bring the UK budget into surplus by the end of the current government. The savings are to be made with a combination of efficiency savings and the closure of low value programmes.

The other effected departments are Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Communities and Local Government and the Treasury.

The announcement was made on Monday, November 9, to put pressure on other government departments which were resisting the measures, such as the Home Office, the department of Work and Pensions and the Foreign Office. Spending on health, international development and education is protected and will not be cut.

CBW spoke to representatives from both the DfT and the Treasury, but the specific cut to the DfT budget is as yet unknown and will be revealed in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. It is expected to fall between 25% and 40%, though The Independent reported that all four departments had agreed to cut their budgets by 8% per year (32% overall).

In a statement, a CPT spokesman told CBW: “CPT is not in a position to comment or speculate on the possible effects of any ‘agreed’ cuts to the Department for Transport’s budget as we do not know what they are at this stage. All will become clearer following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on November 25.

“As ever, CPT repeatedly reminds DfT officials of the importance of BSOG to bus passengers and how any further cuts to this payment will impact on services.

“Money for local tendered bus services comes from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). CPT will continue to watch this space with interest as if there are to be cuts to bus services there, as has been the case before, it will be the commercial bus operators who step in to sure-up the network.”

Reacting to the news, Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “We fear that this huge cut in spending will hit everyday transport, the transport networks people use on a daily basis, whilst big road and rail schemes will remain untouched.

£We await details, but we fear this will mean more potholes in local roads, more cuts in local bus services, and less funding for safe cycling and walking routes.

“In order to protect the transport that most people use every day, we’d like to see buses get the funding they need by investing in a ‘Transport into Work fund, which would help overcome the transport barriers to employment and would replace the successful Local Sustainable Transport Fund. We’re also calling on the Government to use its rail franchise premium income to make good on their promises for fairer fares and flexible ticketing for part time workers.”