Walking and cycling prescription trial funding allocations published

Eleven local authorities in England have been funded to enable health workers prescribe walking and cycling to patients

Funding allocations for each of the 11 local authorities taking part in a £13.9 million trial that enables health workers to prescribe walking and cycling to patients have been published for the first time today by Active Travel England (ATE).

The active travel social prescribing scheme, which was launched in August 2022, is helping councils launch a range of projects that will evaluate the impact of active travel on an individual’s physical and mental health, such as through reduced demand for healthcare appointments and reliance on medication due to more physical activity.

Recipients include Bradford City Council, which has received £1.34 million to deliver projects that will see patients offered free access to guided walking and cycling activities, cycle training and bike loans.

In Plymouth, the council is using its £1.2 million share of the funding to help tackle patients’ individual barriers to active travel by working with them to develop personal walking and cycling plans.

Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman said:

"Many studies have shown active travel has massive health benefits. Enabling everyone in England to travel under their own steam will help reduce conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, whilst at the same time, improving mental wellbeing.

"We aim to use these trials to build on the existing evidence to show how bringing transport, active travel and health together can help build a healthier nation in an easy and sustainable way."

Decarbonisation Minister Jesse Norman said:

"This funding will help thousands more people across the country to realise the mental and physical health benefits that walking and cycling brings.

"Prescribing walking and cycling will not only improve the health and wellbeing of people across the country but will also reduce pressure on the NHS and help people to choose more sustainable transport choices."

The full list of allocations for the £13.9 million social prescribing fund is below:

  • Bath & North East Somerset Council - £1,612,773
  • City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council - £1,340,145
  • Cornwall Council - £844,641
  • Cumbria County Council - £1,496,432
  • Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council - £665,000
  • Gateshead Council - £1,431,240
  • Leeds City Council - £1,373,444
  • Nottingham City Council - £1,588,785
  • Plymouth City Council - £1,241,722
  • Staffordshire County Council - £834,458
  • Suffolk County Council - £1,490,506

The government committed to fund active travel social prescribing pilots as part of the gear change plan in 2020. The pilots are taking a pioneering approach that will see active travel and health officials work together to develop a whole systems approach to health improvement and tackling health disparities.

ATE is also today (7 July 2023) publishing the breakdown of funding for its £32.9 million capability fund, initially announced in January. This investment will help 78 councils in England design, develop and consult on high-quality active travel schemes that work for residents. The funding will also be used to deliver training and engagement activities that give people the choice to walk, wheel and cycle.

Active Travel England
The Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP