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Mar 19 2013

Harrow Council – Withdrawal of Taxicards for Disabled Residents

taxicardHarrow Council has recently sent a letter to a number of Taxicard holders – members of its concessionary scheme for disabled residents, who qualify for reduced travel via taxis – to tell them that as they haven’t used the scheme recently, their concession to do so has been withdrawn.

Harrow’s website says:

Taxicard is a scheme to provide subsidised door to door transport for Harrow residents with a mobility impairment, which makes it difficult for them to use mainstream public transport such as tubes, buses and trains.

Harrow residents are automatically eligible for a taxicard if they meet one of the following criteria

  • In receipt of the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
  • Is registered blind as certified by a consultant ophthamologist
  • In receipt of War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement 

Residents who do not meet any of the above criteria might still be eligible for a taxicard if they have a serious mobility impairment and difficulty in using public transport, and whose disability must be permanent, lasting at least 12 months.

Members pay £2.50 per trip, and the scheme has around 5,200 members. It is funded by Transport for London (£250,000 contribution) and Harrow Council (£200,000 contribution) in the 2012/13 year, but the Council is looking to abandon any help, whilst TfL are actually increasing their funding by a further £37,000. It averages out at around two trips a month per member, with each trip costing, on average, a little over £8.

Interestingly, the council is planning to consult on changes to the Taxicard scheme, and was thinking about three options, before it launched this upsetting letter out of nowhere and with no warning. It says:

We are limited in the changes that we can make to the scheme. We cannot change the eligibility criteria as this is set by Transport for London. The options available to allow the Taxicard Scheme to continue in Harrow with reduced funding are:

  1. Increasing the contribution to £5.00 for every individual trip a member of the Taxicard Scheme takes. This means an increase of £2.50 for each trip for everybody. The number of trips that members of the scheme currently receive would not change.
  2. Reduce all trips to 40 a year. This would mean that people who do not have a Blue Badge or Freedom pass would receive the same number of trips as members of these two schemes. Discretionary Freedom Pass members would continue to have no access to the Taxicard Scheme.
  3. A combination of 1 & 2 above as follows:
    • Increase the contributions towards trips to £5.00 for year 2013/14 and then decrease to £4.00 for year 2014/15. By charging extra for this year (2013/14) we would not then have to reduce the trips for people who may already have used some or all of their allocation by that time, and,
    • Reduce all trips to 52 a year. As above this would mean that people who do not have a Blue Badge or Freedom pass would receive the same number of trips as members of these two schemes. Discretionary Freedom Pass members would continue to have no access to the Taxicard Scheme.

The letter, which comes from the Corporate Resources Directorate, headed up by Julie Alderson, who joined the Council two years ago on a £16,500 per month package, appears to have been sent out with no warning.

One resident said she was in “…complete and utter disgust at the letter I received today.”

She continued, “…if a disabled resident tries to use it as little as possible so as not to be a burden on the Council, you get penalised.” Harrow Council doesn’t seem to have asked why cards aren’t being used – or perhaps it doesn’t care.

Finishing the letter with it’s signature peppering of incompetence, the Council advises affected members to call the TfL 24-hour travel advice line on a phone number that was taken out of service in late 2010.

A copy of the letter is below.

taxicards_cancelled

 

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