More cuts for carers on the buses

Cuts are a double blow to carers

Tim Clarke

08 April. Updated: 08 April 11:16


CUTBACKS to concessionary bus travel have dealt a double blow to the disabled and their carers, a group has claimed.
The Worcestershire Association of Carers (WAC) fear the county council’s decision not to fund concessionary bus travel before 9.30am will put a huge strain on carers.
WAC has also voiced concern over the impact of proposed cuts to some subsidised bus routes, which are the subject of an ongoing consultation.
From last Friday (April 1) people entitled to concessionary bus fares were no longer able to travel before 9.30am.
The county council, which has taken over responsibility for concessionary travel from district and borough councils, chose not to fund concessionary fares outside the national provision of 9.30am to 11.30pm.
But WAC has warned the changes mean many disabled people can no longer get to college courses, work or day services. They claim this will place even greater demands on family carers who will have to find alternative means of getting the people they care for to work and other appointments.
Alison Price, a parent carer, who with her husband cares for their disabled daughter, said: “What councillors do not seem to realise is the council is supposed to be committed to encouraging people with disabilities to live and travel more independently to day services, college and work placements. They do not seem to understand that some people with learning and other disabilities will find it impossible to ask for tickets and deal with money without support.”
WAC spokeswoman Judy Adams said: “Worcestershire is a large rural county and services are very geographically widespread which means carers and the people they care for often have to undertake long journeys to get to services and appointments. Many bus services are already limited and so restricting concessions and reducing services is a double blow for carers and cared for alike.”
Coun Derek Prodger, cabinet member for transport and safe environment, said the council had consulted a variety of organisations on changes to concessionary travel, including those representing people with disabilities and the elderly.
He added the majority of bus routes would remain unaffected but many subsidised routes were expensive and under used.
He said: “This is not simply about cutting services however, we are also looking at finding alternative ways of providing public transport, including route alterations and supporting community transport schemes in more rural areas.”
“It is an unfortunate fact that, following the reduction of our budget, we have to reduce our expenditure, however, we are doing all we can to try to minimise the impact of these reductions and it is important to note that final decisions have yet to be made.”