Friday, October 1, 2021

Disability Grant for Ferries and Hovercraft to Boost Accessibility to Offshore UK Islands

One Million Pounds Available for Isle of Wight and Scilly Isles Route Improvements
Shipping News Feature

UK – Under the government's National Disability Strategy funding was to be made available for certain key transport routes. Now the Department for Transport (DfT) is accepting bids for a £1 million grant to boost accessibility for ferries to the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly.

From today, operators can pitch projects that will help elderly and disabled people travel with confidence on the vital transport links connecting them to the mainland. Bids can either be for equipment, such as wheelchairs or accessible ticket machines, or building works like ramp levelling or the installation of Changing Places toilets. All ideas will be considered, so long as they are geared towards improving accessibility.

Ferries from the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly to the mainland provide vital connections for around 140,000 residents and are crucial for businesses and tourism. There is currently no expectation this funding will be repeated, so the Government is urging operators to come forward now to support this important initiative.

Bids received will be assessed on the number of passengers likely to benefit from the improvements and value for money. Applicants are asked to provide a supporting letter from local disability charities or individuals, as well as three quotes to ensure good value is being obtained. Accessibility Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:

“These ports provide vital connections to the islands of the United Kingdom and it is imperative that they are accessible to all. We look forward to hearing some innovative and life-changing ideas as we take another step towards creating a fully inclusive transport network.”

The government says its National Disability Strategy is already underway with a nationwide audit of all train stations to drive up standards, urgent roll-out of tactile paving on platforms, grants to improve bus services and new laws to ensure proper support in taxis and private hire vehicles.

This follows the ‘It’s everyone’s journey’ campaign, launched in 2020 to champion equal access across all forms of public transport and encourage people to be more considerate and supportive of others when using the transport network.

Details of the grant applications can be seen HERE.