The Leaders Committee of London Councils met on Tuesday 14th Dec and voted through severe cuts to their Pan London Grants scheme.
Transport for All had been battling these cuts as part of the Voluntary Sector Forum but were hit with a bombshell when we were told just four days before the London Councils Grants Committee (that was to make a reccomendation on the cuts) that services to support disabled and older people using accessible transport (Service Area 14) were to be de-commissioned after the summer of 2012.
Transport for All has been delivering services under Service 14 for two years as part of the Get Moving project. The commission has been hugely successful delivering unique and specialised services in every borough of London. This has included providing specialised advice, information, training and outreach to 5000 disabled and older Londoners over 2 years.
The project has also created a lasting legacy in the capital by its extensive work to strengthen the business acumen of the capital’s vital CT sector.
The Get Moving project has also carried out groundbreaking work to develop the voice of disabled and older transport users through the creation of the first pan-London mobility forum, as well as feeding back the experiences and aspirations of travellers to transport providers to effect change.
Orginally highlighted as a priority area (placed in category A) accessible transport support services were then dumped without any prior notice. Had TfA recieved information that this was going to happen we would have mobilised the many disabled and older peoples groups and individuals that we work with to oppose the cut.
However, Transport for All was never given the chance to make a proper case as to why accessible transport is so crucial and vital to the mobility, health, freedom and independence of disabled and older Londoners.
The report we produced about our work, detailing its successes and impact were not read or considered.
Whilst TfA managed to get the decision reviewed at a London Councils Grants Executive meeting – an ill-informed discussion lasting less that 2 minutes sealed the fate of this popular and successful commission.
Ironically, managing accessible transport schemes form a large part of what London Councils does – from administering Taxicard and the Freedom Pass in London – making it even more bizarre how accessible transport support services will not be reflected in the next round of funding commissions after 2012.
So, at exactly the same time as the Olympics and Paralympics will hit our capital, the only service in London that provides specialised accessible transport advice and information for disabled and older people will be shuting down due to this London Councils decision.
The decommissioning of accessible transport support is part of a huge raft of cuts announced by London Councils to its pan-London Grants scheme. Many other vital services have also been decommissioned and will lose their funding, some as early as next summer.
The move has been devasting to the Voluntary sector in London and will result in many organisations struggling to survive. A consultation on the cuts resulted in an overwhelming response against the grants scheme being cut or ‘repatriated’ back to boroughs, but it was ignored by the leadership of London Councils. No guarantees have been made that the money clawed back through the cuts to the grants scheme will be re-invested in local voluntary sector organisations.
On the day of the Leaders Committee, a demonstration outside London Councils organised by the BME Advice Network (BAN) and Voluntary Sector Forum (VSF) saw dozens of groups effected by the cuts angrily voice their concerns. A petition of 2000 signatures was handed into the Chair of London Councils – Mayor Jules Pipe. Unfortunately it had no effect on the decision.
Transport for All will be lobbying London Councils to have accessible transport support in some form included in their next round of funding commissions. We hope to present to them the overwhelming evidence base and statements of support in favour of mainatining crucial accessible transport support services – something we were unjustly denied to do as this decision was steamrollered through.