Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Yeovil Constituency has reacted with concern to a new report highlighting the impact of cuts on rural areas.
Research for Rural England shows people in rural communities spending an average of £26.60/week more on transport than those in urban areas. This represents £1 in every £8 of disposable income. Figures also show a 25% reduction in the volume of Local Authority funded bus routes since 2011/12 which have hit rural communities, with the poorest suffering most.1
Transport is a vital service for people in rural communities because they need to travel to see a doctor, attend school or college, or go to work. For young people, access to education is a particular concern, Department of Transport figures show that “only half of rural users can get to a FE institution by public transport or walking ‘in a reasonable transport time’. Equally, less than 40% of rural users can get to a secondary school by public transport or walking ‘in a reasonable travel time’.2 The report goes on to highlight “The paucity of public transport networks and the absence of large employers are both barriers to delivering apprenticeships in rural areas”.
The rural population has a large number of people over the age of 65 (23% in rural vs 16% urban)3, yet it has less access to sheltered accommodation, dementia services and requires more home visits from GPs because of travel difficulties.
Following meetings with Yeovil District Hospital and Somerset CCG leaders, Daisy Benson has heard first hand about difficulties in recruitment of healthcare professionals in our area because of its rural character.
The number of GPs in South Somerset is set to decline by 31% by 2020. In Crewkerne, Chard & Ilminster the number is even higher at 58% as our hard working doctors reach retirement age. This will have real impacts on people in our area.
Daisy Benson said
“This report matches my experience on the ground: life is getting increasingly difficult for people living in rural areas such as ours as a result of cuts to buses and other vital public services.
‘Where you live shouldn’t have such a big impact on the quality of your life, I am fighting for a better deal for people in our area, to make it an even better place to live, work and do business”.