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Industry Calls for Government Support for the Wheels to Work Scheme

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The Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCI) is calling for action as a new report on the ground breaking 'Wheels to Work' (WTW) programme is published by the industry.

Wheels to Work is a programme which provides transport, mainly smaller engined motorcycles or scooters, to individuals who are unable to access training, employment or education, due to a lack of suitable public or private transport. Wheels to Work and Wheels to Learning schemes can be particularly important for people living in isolated rural communities where public transport is inadequate or only available during business hours. There are around 40 programmes currently operating in the UK.

In a detailed scoping study of the initiative, 'Wheels to Work in 2010', MCI, reviewed the number of schemes, their objectives, geographical location, their size and operational scope and the security of their financing. The MCI is calling for commitment from public and private stakeholders for secure long-term support and funding for WTW.

It is widely accepted that a lack of viable transport can have a negative effect on opportunities for training, education and employment, particularly for young people and those living in rural areas. The industry study notes that new Government support for WTW could provide value for money for the Exchequer compared to the often open ended payment of long term benefits to young people who are not in education or employment.
The report includes detailed recommendations that aim to build on the strengths of WTW programmes. If supported by Government and fully enacted, industry recommendations will enable schemes to provide a much needed section of the social 'toolkit' required to enable young people, in particular, to gain access to employment, training and further education.

Wheels to Work has traditionally enjoyed cross-party political support to party leadership level, but, given the potential for WTW to contribute to aspects of welfare reform and longer term budget savings, welcome words now need to be formalised, by Government, into a strategic policy which places WTW at the heart of support for job seekers.

The key recommendations from the report include: . Recognition by Government and agencies that sustainable and consistent support is the sensible and cost effective option. . Consideration to how Wheels to Work can be supported during the current restructuring of the 'welfare to work' programmes. . Creation of a national steering group (not a quango) to develop policy, maintain awareness and create a link with individual programmes.
Steve Kenward, MCI' s CEO commented, " The industry's study has established a clear picture of the situation for WTW in 2010.

"Now we need to take this one step further and create a formalised strategy with Government support that will help to secure the necessary funding to assist this valuable initiative. Experience of individual WTW programmes reveals a notably positive effect in helping young people get suitable transport to enable them to take on employment or further training.

"Government should view Wheels to Work as an investment, which can help reduce longer term welfare bills and industry today calls on the Government to take action to support the future of this innovative programme."

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