By News Reporters
“Don’t move to Westminster if you are working and disabled” says the husband of a disabled woman who relies on the Taxicard scheme to get to her part-time job. Disabled residents in Westminster no longer qualify for a Taxicard unless they are on a “low income” after new rules were introduced by the council.
The couple who don’t wish to be named were living in the Camden part of Fitzrovia but moved a few streets away into Westminster when their housing association agreed to move them to a more suitable flat for their needs.
Westminster carried out a consultation about changes to the Taxicard scheme earlier in the year but the couple were living in Camden at the time. They didn’t realise that by moving from one borough to another they would lose the use of the Taxicard until they got a letter from Westminster City Council in September saying that the woman could not have subsidised journeys in London’s Black Cabs because she was in employment and earning more than the qualifying threshold.
Under changes to the Taxicard scheme in Westminster “People who have a serious disability that makes it difficult for them to use public transport or people who are blind will continue to receive a Taxicard, if they can provide documents to show that they are on a low income,” states the council.
The changes make getting to work and back more expensive for people who cannot use or have difficulty using public transport. “What sort of council is Westminster if it treats disabled people who want to work like this? This policy doesn’t make sense. And it’s an undignified way to treat people ,” said the husband of the woman concerned.
Cllr Daniel Astaire, Cabinet Member for Adult Services and Health at Westminster City Council, said: “We realise the taxicard service is important to many people and regret that due to financial constraints, it cannot remain available to all.
“Changing the criteria was a difficult decision that we considered carefully. I believe the changes will mean that the service can continue for those who most need it.
“There are other transport options for those who will no longer receive a Taxicard and we have provided everyone who uses the Taxicard service with these details.
“We are also following up on issues that were raised in the consultation. This includes people who use the service primarily to get to hospital and medical appointments. Taxicards were not originally intended for this purpose and there are other options available.
“We are holding discussion groups to find out why people do not use these other services and have also sent Taxicard users a survey to find out more.”