Travel costs for Havering’s disabled and elderly to soar

ELDERLY and disabled people in Havering could be forced to fork out an extra �100 a year in special travel costs if controversial new plans get the green light.

Users of Taxicard – a London Councils-led scheme funded by Transport for London (TfL) which provides heavily subsidised travel for those unable to use public transport – could see minimum single journey prices rise from �1.50 to �2.50.

It is a hike of nearly 67 per-cent and will affect more than 5,300 people in Havering.

Members are given 104 journeys a year – each of which pays for one cab ride worth up to �12 – equating to approximately one return journey a week.

But London Councils also wants to reduce that by a pound.

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The proposals, made earlier this month in a report to London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, have sparked outrage.

Taxicard user Michael Lloyd, 51, from Hornchurch, said: “I feel it’s unreasonable and unfair to increase the price so much. They are going to bring this in without consulting members.”

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Michael, who uses a wheelchair, added: “What it means is that some members will not be able to use the service as frequently. An extra pound might not seem like a lot, but this service is for the most vulnerable and needy in our society – people who are on a shoestring budget to start with and it’s another extra cost on top of mounting costs generally in society.”

The proposed cost hike for users is to counteract increasing demand for the service in tandem with a budget freeze.

The report said: “The ongoing success of the scheme has, unfortunately, led to a situation where the level of growth has become unaffordable.” Each borough has its own pot of money for the Taxicard scheme, but is given a large grant by TfL. Havering’s budget is nearly �1m – more than half of which is provided by TfL.

A London Councils spokesman said: “The Taxicard budget is not being cut – this is about maintaining an increasingly popular service within the available budget.” A decision is due on November 11.

Cllr Roger Ramsey, Havering’s cabinet member for value, said: “We know how important people find their Taxicards, however the scheme is overspending and we need to find ways to reduce how much it costs. Because we want to protect the scheme for future users, we have agreed with the proposal that the minimum user fare, which has not increased for over ten years, should be increased to �2.50.”

The council also agreed with the proposal to reduce the maximum subsidy by a pound.

A TfL spokesman said: “The scheme is run directly by London Councils and scheme management is a matter between the individual boroughs and London Councils.”

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