Government funds will maintain vital transport links to the mainland.
Vital transport links to the mainland for people living on the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly have been safeguarded during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to an emergency package of up to £10.5 million, granted by the government.
The funding – agreed jointly by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Her Majesty’s Treasury – will support the continuation of crucial passenger ferries to the Isle of Wight as well as sea and air links to the Isles of Scilly over the next 3 months.
More than 140,000 people live on the Isle of Wight and 2,200 on the Isles of Scilly. This fund will help ensure these communities continue to have access to vital medical services on the mainland while protecting the flow of supplies to these regions.
This is the latest step in a string of urgent measures being taken forward by the government to support vital public services, including emergency support to sustain rail, bus and freight links as operators manage the impacts of COVID-19.
It follows the temporary suspension of competition law to allow ferry operators in the Isle of Wight to work together to continue to run essential services despite reduced usage during the virus, maintaining a vital route for those who cannot work from home and those needing medical treatment.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
Lifeline transport services remain fundamental to everyday lives, and by taking action today, we are helping ensure communities can access healthcare and essential goods and services.
We should all be inherently grateful to transport operators who are providing vital services across the country at this difficult time and we will continue to back them and the critical work they carry out.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay MP said:
Services like these play a vital role in providing communities in these more remote areas with the essential supplies they need – which is particularly important as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s why I’m delighted to award this much-needed funding today to these services operating in the Isles of Scilly and Isle of Wight and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank their employees for their continuing efforts in challenging circumstances.
Alongside the support for lifeline ferry services, the Transport Secretary today (24 April 2020) announced a new support package, worth tens of millions of pounds, to safeguard essential freight paths during the pandemic.
The funding will secure the ongoing supply of critical goods, including life-saving medicines, into the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, with up to 31 routes eligible for support.
The government continues to work closely with industry leaders and operators across the transport sector to identify how it can provide them with the support they need and has already announced a series of measures to do this.
Earlier this month, DfT announced £397 million in emergency funding to maintain important bus connections across England during the pandemic.
It came after the DfT temporarily suspended normal rail franchise agreements, transferring all revenue and cost risk to the government to ensure trains necessary for those who need to travel continue to operate.