Moped project helps people in rural areas overcome travel issues in getting to work
THERE has been a fall in unemployment benefit claims in Lincolnshire, but transport remains a barrier for some people who want to work.
Now people in the more rural areas of the county are being offered mopeds to help them get around when using public transport is not feasible.
Social enterprise Access Your Future has teamed up with Lincolnshire County Council and the Build A Future training centre, based in the Horncastle area, to develop the project.
There are 200 bikes available for use across the county, which can be hired from £8.50 a week.
The Wheels To Work scheme is supported by £360,000 of county council funding.
Similar projects have operated in the county in recent years, but it is anticipated this one will be more sustainable.
Anthony Cooper, 43, a shotblaster at Bifrangi in Lincoln, who lives in Welton, said the scheme was a lifeline. He said: "I was made redundant 14 months ago and had to sell the car.
"When I got this job I lived with my parents in Lincoln for two months and saw my wife and children at weekends.
"Now I can afford to get to work from my home and without the moped it would be lost."
The number of people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance (JSA) in the county last month fell by nine per cent to 13,305, or 3.2 per cent of the resident working age population, compared to 14,639 in June 2009.
However, between June 2008 and June 2006 the number of claimants has been about 7,000 to 8,000.
In Lincoln, JSA claims in June amounted to 2,998 – 5.2 per cent of the resident working age population. This compares to 3,068 claims in June last year. Aside from the transport challenges, it is recognised that more needs to be done to develop further high-quality employment and training opportunities to keep more graduates in Lincolnshire and increase broadband coverage.
There are several schemes operating in Lincolnshire to help rural populations get about, including on-demand bus shuttle services.
Head of accessibility at the county council Chris Briggs said the authority was always looking to meet the travel needs of everyone across the county.
He said: "In such a rural county, improving people's access to services is vital and Wheels To Work adds to the many other schemes we have in place.
"We are proud that initiatives such as CallConnect and InterConnect have been recognised in the past year by the Prime Minister's rural advocate in his report into tackling rural disadvantage and by the Minister for Rural Affairs.
"The council also provides financial support to other rural bus services that would otherwise not be viable – these services ensure people can access education, work, health facilities and the shops."