Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Social Exclusion Unit (WTC 105)


  1.  During its first three years, the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) has reported to the Prime Minister on five key areas:

    —  Truancy and Exclusion (May 1998).

    —  Rough Sleeping (1998).

    —  Neighbourhood Renewal (1998/2000/2001) including 18 Policy Action Team reports.

    —  Teenage Pregnancy (1999).

    —  Bridging the Gap—New Opportunities for 16-18 year olds not in education, employment or training (1999).

  2.  The SEU is currently engaged in completing a project looking at reducing re-offending by ex-prisoners, following up initial work on young runaways, and starting new projects on the educational attainment of children in care, and transport and social exclusion.


  3.  We are still at the preliminary scoping stages of the transport project. However, we expect that it will be organised on similar lines to previous SEU projects.

  4.  The standard SEU methodology has been to focus strongly on hard evidence relating to the topic in question, consult widely with users, practitioners, academics and other stakeholders, involve outside expertise through project teams and working groups combining civil servants and practitioners, draw on good practice and international experience, and develop recommendations and an action plan with clear targets and timetables.

  5.  Transport was chosen as a topic because, in a variety of SEU projects and other related work, transport has been found to be a very significant barrier to full participation in society. Poor transport services can prevent or discourage people from accessing work, learning, shopping, and other essential services and activities. The problems can be particularly acute for some areas and groups, including rural areas, disadvantaged neighbourhoods, disabled people, older people, young people, ethnic minorities, and women.

  6.  The findings below shed some useful light on the problems:

    —  the Policy Action Team on Jobs found that transport services and a reluctance to travel was an important barrier to accessing work;

    —  the SEU's work on 16 to 18 year olds found that the cost and availability of transport could be an important barrier to participating in education and training. The same arguments apply to adult learners;

    —  the Policy Action Team on Shopping Access found that the growth of out of town shopping centres and the closure of local stores had made it harder for people in disadvantaged areas to get access to affordable and good quality food;

    —  the lowest income group make the greatest use of taxis or minicabs—1.6 per cent of all journeys taken compared with the GB average of 1.1 per cent.[13] Taxi use by low income households doubled between 1985-6 and 1996-8;

    —  walking is the dominant mode of transport for low income households. For low income households without a car, 60 per cent of journeys are on foot; and

    —  while car use overall has increased sharply, nearly two households in three in the lowest 20 per cent household income group does not own a car.

  7.  Over the next few weeks, the SEU will be working with others to assemble a suitable project team and identify the key issues, and questions for this project. A timetable for the project will be set in the light of this.

April 2001

13   DETR, Transport Statistics Bulletin, National Travel Survey: 1996-98 update, TSO, 1999Back

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