The new funding will include £1.5 million allocated to support all 13 Mobility Centres across England roll out a ‘Hubs Mobility Service’. These vital services help people stay mobile after they have been advised to stop driving or if they are unable to learn to drive due to their disabilities, offering them advice on alternatives such as powered wheelchairs, community transport and local services. The hubs have been successfully piloted at seven of the centres over the two years. They have already helped over 4,000 people regain and retain confidence to travel. The real-life benefits of staying mobile were highlighted in the Inclusive Transport Strategy, which sets out the link between reduced mobility and access to transport with loneliness and social isolation.
Wendy Morton Accessibility Minister commented, “This funding will help people travel with confidence and comes just in time as our nation rebuilds from COVID-19 … We want to help everyone to be mobile and these vital Hubs Mobility Services will provide life-changing travel advice, keeping people connected to their friends, work and support networks.”
DfT also announced that it will provide £1 million to lifeline ferries and seaports serving the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly to improve accessibility. The funding will improve access to services for passengers with disabilities.
In tandem with this announcement the Department for Transport (DfT) also published a number of reports on transport accessibility:
- the Reference wheelchair standard research will inform the broader evidence base on design of new vehicles and transport infrastructure to meet mobility aid users’ needs
- the Wheelchair accessible taxi and private hire vehicle services research report, which was commissioned to understand current use and experience of wheelchair accessible taxi and private hire vehicles
- the second Inclusive Transport Strategy scorecard (2020 to 2021) monitors annual changes in metrics relating to disabled people’s travel and forms part of the overall evaluation of delivery against the strategy
- a report from the first Technology Research and Innovation Grant-Accessibility (TRIG-A) programme, which delivered a £600,000 investment to support small and medium sized enterprises developing accessibility technology in 2021