ELDERLY MEN and women with disabilities claim they will “be left to lie down and die” after it was announced that Taxicard will limit the number of journeys they can make per year.
The Taxicard service provides a lifeline to 90,000 people across London who are unable to use public transport because they are disabled.
But funding for the scheme by councils has been cut drastically after coming under pressure from mayor of London Boris Johnson. Some pensioners say they have already nearly run out of journeys.
Sylvia Dorff (89) of Stanmore, said: “I do not want to give up my blue badge because it allows my daughter to drive me around the borough. But I only have ten Taxicard journeys left and I am afraid that when I run out I will be trapped in my home until next April, when I receive next year’s allowance.”
Mrs Dorff uses two walking sticks and a frame to get around and relies on the service to get to and from hospital appointments and cannot afford to pay the full price for taxi journeys.
“I think it’s disgraceful and I’m having a lot of problems. If I haven’t got Taxicard, life is very difficult for me because once these trips are finished, I’ll have to spend money on normal taxis which would cost me a fortune. They’re penalising people like me and I just hope that one day people won’t have to go through what I’m going through because I am in terrible pain. I’ll be trapped in my home and I couldn’t bear that, but I am a fighter. There are people though who will just give up and be left to lie down and die because they can’t get out.”
Councils can decide their own level of funding for the Taxicard scheme and some, like Hillingdon Council and Tower Hamlets Council, decided not to make any cuts to the number of Taxicard trips allowed.
Other local authorities, like Richmond, have halved the number of journeys allowed but have been forced to reinstate the previous limit of 104 trips.
Harrow Borrow Council though have cut the level of Taxicard journeys to 52 and local resident Millie Peters (92) wants the local authority to follow Richmond’s example.
She said: “I’ve only got ten or 12 journeys left now and I’m not alone. There are others that have the same situation and we have to get the council to do something about it.
Councillor Husain Akhtar represents Mrs Dorff and Mrs Peters and is now calling on Harrow Borough Council to rethink its cuts to the Taxicard scheme. “I am very disappointed by their straight jacket approach. This change has caused serious problems for many elderly residents in my ward who now go out less often with obvious implications, including isolation.”