The Minister also welcomed a new handbook, launched this week by the W2WA, which sets out best practice for running a scheme. The Minister summarised this as:
“Clear, concise and includes everything you need to set up a new scheme or improve the running of an existing initiative.”
He also related a story about how he had been a W2W “pioneer” himself, in buying a former young employee a motorcycle, the cost of which was deducted from his wages each week.
Chairman of the Wheels 2 Work Association Nigel Dotchin says the Minister sent clear signals regarding funding:
“Innovation and working in partnership seem to be key elements in a successful funding bid. The Minister mentioned the importance of working with Local Enterprise Partnerships several times, which Wheels 2 Work schemes looking for funding will need to take on board.”
Endorsed by young politicians
The W2W concept was also endorsed by 19 year old Gabi Ohlsen, the Young Person’s Representative on a Parliamentary working group set up to tackle rural isolation.
Gabi is a staunch advocate of affordable and accessible travel for young people, and came to address the conference to offer her support. She considers the Wheels 2 Work concept is the most appropriate way to tackle a lack of transport for those living in the countryside, who may well have unemployed parents too. One study she highlighted described these as a growing “rural underclass”.
The group Gabi belongs to have looked at a number of alternatives to provide rural transport, but W2W seems to be a favourite:
“Wheels 2 Work is effective and innovative as it helps on an individual basis, serving individual needs. It’s much more cost effective than running a bus to all the different villages and hamlets.”
“I thoroughly believe that all young people should know about it and have access to it, if they are in need of the service. The fact is there has been very little political discourse on rural isolation, even though it affects many many young people.” Schemes also received good news regarding saving money:
- A ‘standard unit of delivery’ has been compiled through collating average costs from all schemes. This will allow schemes to know what others are paying for the same services and so seek better deals.
- Protective clothing can now be bought at nearly half the price some schemes have been paying for it, thanks to a procurement programme, which saw Oxford Products Ltd win the tender. Procurement for other services will be looked at for the future.