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2 May 2010

SNP Govt Urge Reversal Of Slashing Disability Access Fund

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson has written to UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Mole, calling for a reversal of the proposed slashing by over 50 per cent this year of the ‘Access for All Small Schemes Fund’ – a programme funded by the UK Department for Transport – which invests in improving access to the railway network for disabled people.

Disabled access to the rail network is a matter reserved to Westminster, as it sits within equalities legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act. The Access for All Small Schemes Fund improves access to the network for disabled people by increasing the number of stations that are step free and wheelchair accessible. UK Ministers agreed to allocate 10.14 per cent of the Fund to Scotland, which is programmed to last until 2015. The annual cash budget is transferred to Transport Scotland from the UK Department for Transport (DfT) each year.

DfT intended to allocate £7.9 million to the Fund across Britain this year (2010/11), in line with previous years. Last October, the initial indication from DfT was that Scotland would receive £796,000, as our agreed 10.14 per cent share of the budget. However, this year’s funding has been slashed by the UK Government to £3.9 million across Britain, with the amount available for schemes in Scotland reduced to £390,000 – an extraordinary cut of 51 per cent.

A spokesperson for Stewart Stevenson said:

“It is unacceptable that UK Government cuts are already falling on services for some of the most vulnerable members of society. How can wasting billions on nuclear weapons possibly be justified, while slashing funding by more than half on an excellent programme to improve access to the rail network for disabled people? This budget cut must be suspended, so that the issue can be revisited after the UK election.”

Stewart Stevenson
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