Since 1997, the Air Quality Grant Scheme has provided local authorities with vital government funding to enable them to address the serious issue posed by toxic air in their local areas.

Manchester has some of the worst levels of air pollution in the UK.

This scheme is one of many policies introduced by the last Labour Government and has allowed residents across the country to benefit from cleaner communities and a healthier lifestyle. I know local authorities in Manchester have used this funding effectively to find solutions to air pollution. For example, Manchester local authorities have funded a free city centre bus connecting transport hubs with key destinations, improved bus, and cycle lanes along busy roads, and widened footpaths to make travelling on foot easier.

I am extremely disappointed by the Government’s decision to end the Air Quality Grant Scheme.

Sadly, this reckless decision comes at short notice, meaning that local authorities are ill-equipped to deal with the lack of funding in tackling air quality. Furthermore, withdrawal of this vital funding will sadly impact the physical and mental health of the public.

This is why I have written to Robbie Moore MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs asking why the scheme has been scrapped even with its long track record of success, whether he has considered the effects this will have on our NHS, what other funding is available for authorities to use for clean air projects and where the money used for the scheme will be redirected to.

The Labour Party always puts the environment and the health of the nation first, while the Tories have yet again shown incompetence on an important issue that impacts my constituents and people across this country.

Labour recognises the severity of this issue and are committed to taking the urgent steps to address the air pollution health emergency in the UK.

One way Labour will enforce this is through our Clean Air Act which will make it a fundamental human right to breathe clean air and abide by World Health Organisation clean air guidelines. In addition to this, our Act will grant new powers to local authorities to allow them to take urgent action on air quality.

To read the letter I sent to the Minister, click here




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