Community transport “could save public sector £750m”

20 Jan 16

Increased use of community transport providers could save public sector organisations an estimated £750m a year, a review by consultants Deloitte has found.

The review for ECT Charity, which is a provider of community transport services, found services can contribute to tackling social isolation, leading to lower health and social care costs.

Community transport involves local services using minibuses or coaches to provide local transport, often for voluntary groups of elderly or disabled people. As well as being used to transport people to hospital appointments or to help vulnerable people get out of their home through so-called dial-a-ride services, they can also be used for school transport.

Overall, the review found that by developing local solutions to national concerns, operators of community transport could respond quickly to individual and community needs.

Where the services are currently used, they can reduce social isolation among elderly people by taking people on weekly shopping trips or ensuring that people get to medical appointments, reducing the chances of an emergency trip to hospital, the review found. Expanding provision so that services were available across the UK could reduce the number of older people experiencing loneliness and isolation, which could lead to health and social care savings of between £400m and £1.1bn per year, with the most likely reduction to be around £750m a year.

Anna Whitty, chief executive of ECT Charity, said the figures showed the sector could be an important part of the solution to coping with budget cuts.

“We hope that, if you are a community transport manager, this report might encourage you to make use of the methodology to start measuring your social value. And, if you are from a local authority or clinical commissioning group, maybe these ideas will help you to look afresh at the community transport organisations in your area, and support them to help you achieve your aims of improving the health and wellbeing of the people in your community."

Shadow transport secretary Lilian Greenwood added there was “no doubt about the potentially huge benefits that community transport can deliver” in communities and to public services all over the UK.

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