Westminster Council is planning to cut its Taxicard budget by £500,000 a year, just a week after agreeing to introduce evening and Sunday parking charges that will rake in an extra £7 million a year for the Council.
Cuts in the Taxicard budget of over £500,000 a year will result in 20% fewer people using the service, according to a Westminster City Council report. The Council plans to introduce a ‘means test’ to reduce the number of people using the service, as part of its continuing £60 million budget cuts. The Council estimates that it will save £292,000 in 2011/12, increasing to £519,000 in 2012/13 and subsequent years.
From 31st October 2011, the Council will introduce a ‘means test’ as part of the application process for a Taxicard. In future, only those who can demonstrate that they are on a low income would be eligible for the scheme. The Council says, “This would apply to all applicants to the scheme, including those who previously met the ‘automatic’ eligibility criteria, i.e. are registered blind, receive the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, receive a higher rate of Attendance Allowance, or receive a war pension mobility supplement.”
The Council also plans to introduce a face-to face Occupational Therapy assessment for those who qualify under the financial criteria, but do not receive the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, do not receive a higher rate of Attendance Allowance, do not receive a war pension mobility supplement or are not registered blind.
Under the new arrangements, all 6,000 current Taxicard members must reapply for their Taxicard under the new terms of the scheme. Currently the City Council has approximately 6,000 registered members although only 4,127 used the service between April 2010 and April 2011.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said; “It is ‘business as usual’ at Conservative Westminster where nothing stands in the way of further cuts to frontline services, even though the Council has just agreed to rake in another £7 million a year from motorists with new evening and Sunday parking charges. The Council will be receiving an extra £7 million in parking income so why is there a need for the £500,000 cut in the Taxicard budget?”Other news from Labour Matters