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Harrow Council defends Taxi Card decision
Harrow Council has spoken out in defence of its decision to cut the number of Taxi Card journeys people can make each year.
The council claims that cutting the number of permitted trips from 104 a year, to 52 per year, is the only way of keeping the service running at all in the face of funding cuts.
Cllr Sachin Shah, Harrow Council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: “Harrow Council fully understands the value and importance of the discretionary Taxi Card scheme which provides enhanced living opportunities to our residents and was a key reason why it was protected from council cuts.
“Reducing the amount of journeys was a difficult decision but it has ensured the continuance of the service this year.
“If more subsidy cuts are applied by TfL the council will have to further review the operation of the scheme which may include increasing the cost of a single trip.”
This comment comes after the Harrow Times revealed that disabled elderly people believe they will “be left to lie down and die” after cuts to the scheme which provides subsidised taxi journeys for those with severe mobility problems.
The Taxicard service, which has 90,000 members across London, gives disabled people who have complex problems, and struggle to use public transport, a lifeline by paying for door-to-door taxi trips.
But under pressure for cuts from the Mayor of London, funding for the scheme was cut drastically by London Councils last year, and from April, Harrow Council decided to limit the amount of journeys that could be claimed by users to 104 per financial year, and set a passenger contribution of £2.50 per journey.
For those who also hold a Freedom Pass for public transport, or a disabled blue badge, councillors decided to limit the number of journeys to 52 – and some pensioners say they have already run out.
In a statement the council explained: “The Taxi Card scheme is managed on our behalf by London Councils and is jointly funded by London Borough of Harrow and Transport for London.
“Historically Harrow Council receives less subsidy from TfL than other London Councils and together with our increasing ageing population there is a mounting pressure on the Taxi Card scheme.
“Given the current economic situation it was not possible to increase the budget for this discretionary service although an inflationary increase was applied.”
Harrow Council is also reminding people that the Taxi Cards are meant to be used for socialising not for transport to hospital appointments.
The council says that transport to hospitals is provided by the Primary Care Trust and that patients should contact them with regards to hospital journeys.