The Ramblers have made a formal submission to Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), which will go ahead despite the delay in announcing the government’s autumn budget.
The CSR determines government spending over the medium term. In launching the review, the Chancellor announced that the government’s spending priorities would be to strengthen the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic; to level up economic opportunities; and to improve outcomes in public services, including the NHS.
Getting more people walking can help the government to meet all of these priorities. Walking has emerged as one of the key drivers of the UK’s recovery from Covid-19. Both central and local government are now actively promoting walking to alleviate pressures on public transport, to avoid traffic congestion and to help everyone maintain their physical and mental health. Since lockdown, more of us are walking than ever before, and research from the Ramblers shows that we intend to keep it up.
To build on this walking momentum and to maximise the economic, health and social value that walking provides, we are calling on Treasury to invest in:
- Infrastructure that enables and encourages walking – including public rights of way; green routes and green infrastructure for towns and cities; the England Coast Path and National Trails; active travel networks; and refreshing the Countryside Code
- Programmes that support communities to take up walking – including funding for the Ramblers ‘Walking for Health’ programme, which supports people with health conditions to get walking
- Local skills and capacity to create walkable places – to boost the ability of local highway, transport and planning officials to deliver better places to walk
This is clearly a challenging time for the public finances, but we know that even relatively small investments in walking provide huge returns – economic and otherwise - for individuals, communities and wider society. As we move through the coronavirus crisis over the coming months, the Ramblers will continue to urge government to recognise and support the key role walking can play in the UK’s green recovery.