At his recent Decision Day, Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, agreed to to extend the Wheels to Work contract for a further two years with an option to extend for another four years, subject to funding.
Councillor Humby said: “Young people living in rural areas generally need to travel beyond where they live to get to work or to centres where they can undertake vocational training on the path to permanent employment. Public transport options may be limited where they live, and they generally have no transport of their own because they don’t have the money to fund this yet. They need a job in order to be able to earn a living which will allow them the means to organise their own transport. Wheels to Work aims to break this cycle and give 16 to 25 year olds a step up on to the ladder of independence.”
The existing contract for the Wheels to Work Loan Scheme will expire on 31 March 2021. The new contract is expected to commence on 1 April 2021 for an initial period of 2 years.
The scheme currently operates in East Hampshire, New Forest, Test Valley and Winchester and has the capacity to loan out 28 mopeds across these four districts. Two district councils in the county, East Hampshire District Council and New Forest District Council, currently contribute towards the costs of the scheme being provided in their areas.
The new contract will see a number of changes including the potential for purchasing electric mopeds instead of conventional mopeds where feasible and extending the scheme to those over 25 years old in specific circumstances. The potential to extend the scheme to other district areas of Hampshire and increase the range of services offered could also form part of the extended scheme if the additional funding required for this can be identified.
Part of the preparation for the procurement of a new contract will involve seeking the views of those who have used the scheme in the past to find out how it might be improved in the future to help more young people get to their first jobs, or obtain the skills they need to secure employment.