'Thousands isolated' due to rural bus service cuts


Thousands of families in rural communities are being left isolated due to cuts in bus services, councils have warned.

A number of routes have been withdrawn in recent years because budgets have been slashed, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.

Mileage on council-supported services in England (excluding London) fell by 12% in 2015/16 compared with the previous year, recent Department for Transport (DfT) figures show.

LGA transport spokesman Martin Tett said: "These figures show just how much pressure many local bus services are under, with councils forced by a lack of central government funding to cut discretionary services.

"In many cases, this is hitting rural communities hardest, leaving families isolated. This is why it is paramount the Government fully funds the Concessionary Fares Scheme in the Autumn Statement.

"Years of underfunding of the scheme has forced councils to spend millions of pounds of taxpayers' money to subsidise the scheme.

"This is now impossible with councils having to make savings while struggling to protect vital services like adult social care, protecting children, filling potholes and collecting bins."

The LGA said councils suffered a 40% reduction in their core funding from 2010 to 2015 and are "continuing to experience funding pressures".