Government wants to limit bus grants
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THE Government is to discuss with passenger vehicle operators' associations and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, a proposed system of control for new bus grants. In placing a limit on the amount of money which will be available for assistance to operators to buy new vehicles, the Depatment of the Environment has warned that the funds allocated for this purpose in the current financial year (1974/ 75) will amount to no more than £22.7m.
The most recent forecast has indicated that grant claims in the current financial year are likely to be of the order of more than 00.4m and the Department is to consider, with operators' associations, how the money available can best be allocated.
It looks as if the Government is hoping that some of the shortfall will be absorbed by the inability of the manufacturers to supply vehicles ordered during the period. However, it is admitted that this might not be sufficient to ensure that the new bus grant claims for 1974/75 do not exceed the €22.7m allocation.
Alternative suggestions made include provisional allocations to operators based on previous levels of expenditure, the most recent forecast of future expenditure and the total availability of grant.
The Department has also said that it will discuss the details of the grant control system and the way in which it might develop while recognizing that the proposals might need to be modified to take account of the circumstances of individual operators and the need to ensure an even flow of orders to manufacturers.
In view of the current pressures on public expenditure, the Depart ment has said that it would be prudent to assume that the grant provision for 1975/76 will be no greater than for the current year.
Since the grants were introduced, payments have increased from £5.3m in 1970/71 to .E20.9m in 1973/74. This latest move is an attempt by the Government to exercise a measure of control over the allocation of resources within the public sector of the industry so that the grant paid out is consistent with the levels of investment in public transport set out in the annual White Paper on public expenditure.