ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT BSOG REFORM AND COMMUNITY TRANSPORT IN ENGLAND 

Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) which is administered by the Department for Transport (DfT) is currently worth around £4m pa to nearly 700 community transport organisations across England.  The CTA knows how important BSOG is to the cash-flow of our members who operate eligible Section 19 and 22 services and who are able to claim BSOG directly from the DfT. 

 

Community transport organisations already have had to make provision for a 20% reduction in BSOG as from 1st April 2012, so the CTA has been very active on behalf of its members in making the DfT aware of the importance of BSOG to community transport organisations, particularly in light of further reforms to BSOG being planned by the DfT.

On 26th March 2012, Transport Minister, Norman Baker MP, announced the publication of “Green Light for Better Buses” – the Government’s new policy on buses which contains the outcome of the BSOG reform in England and the Government’s response to the recent Competition Commission Inquiry into buses.  “Green Light for Better Buses” is now available on the DfT website at http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/green-light-for-buses/

The reforms relating to BSOG are set out in “Green Light for Better Buses” and include a specific section on community transport. In summary, the reforms relating to community transport are:

  • BSOG funding for local authority in-house services (section 19) devolved to local authorities.
  • BSOG funding for community buses (Section 22) run under tender, in the same way as supported services, (not including those grant funded) will be devolved to local authorities.  
  • Section 19 services, operated directly by community transport organisations, will be able to continue to claim BSOG direct from the DfT, as now.
  • Section 22 community buses, operated by community transport organisations, but with no financial support from the local authority, will be treated the same as commercial buses, as now, and community transport organisations will still claim their BSOG direct.  

The above changes relate to England outside London. The DfT is not making any announcements about London at present.

It is anticipated that the changes will take effect in 2013.

In a statement about BOSG and community transport the DfT said:

We know that more than 1700 community transport groups are providing a vital lifeline to individuals and communities, linking them to jobs, education and services and tackling isolation.  Understanding their importance, these groups will still be able to claim for BSOG.

Government will work with local transport authorities, bus companies and the Community Transport Association over the next few months to get the details right.  We will publish more information on our proposals by early summer as well as holding a public consultation”.

Keith Halstead, Chief Executive of the CTA said:

The CTA welcomes “Green Light for Better Buses” and we are extremely pleased that the DfT acknowledges the importance of community transport in the publication and has listened and responded to some of our concerns about potential options in reforming BSOG.  That eligible Section 19 services operated by community transport organisations will continue to receive BSOG directly from the DfT, rather than the funding being devolved to local authorities, is, for us and for our members, a significant and positive outcome”.

Mr Halstead adds:

Turning to Section 22 community bus services, it is unlikely that a community transport organisation would be operating such a service without the support and involvement of their local authority which means that devolution of the BSOG funding for Section 22 services should be acceptable to our members, but we still need to go through the detail with the DfT to be clear about how this will work in practice.”

The CTA will be publishing further information on BSOG reform in the next edition of CTA Journal.  In the meantime, if you have any queries on BSOG, or on any other aspect of community transport, then do please call the CTA Advice Line on 0345 130 6195 or email us at advice@ctauk.org   

 

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