By definition, many pensioners live on reduced means when compared to their disposable income throughout their working lives. Likewise those with reduced mobility who rely on Ring and Ride are often less able to command an average living wage. Subsidy of such services is therefore a critical factor in maintaining the access to the world beyond ones four walls which is believed necessary for the maintenance of an independent life and the presumed benefits to ones mental health, and general well being, accrued from contact with friends and family, not to mention the opportunity to form new friendships and associations.
Restriction of mobility, by pricing, selectively, certain demographic groups out of service use would seem to presage two major knock-on effects: first, more in these demographics will be pushed into need for social care services adding to the cost burden to an already critically underfunded and understaffed area; second, insidiously, the bean-counters will use the empirical data of reduced service uptake to argue that the subsidy is unnecessary.
But pensioners claim partial victory
On Friday 14th February over 100 pensioners and other anti-cuts protesters packed the CENTRO board meeting which was meeting to decide their 2014-2015 budget.
The chair claimed that CENTRO had no choice but to implement the budget reduction demanded by the seven metropolitan councils led by Birmingham. This was sharply refuted by interruptions from the floor which pointed out that until April 2014 the board has the right to set whatever budget it chooses and demand a corresponding precept from the councils.
It emerged that CENTRO bosses have abandoned plans to make pensioners pay on trams and trains, and increase child fares to two-thirds adult. They admitted the scale of public and particularly organised pensioner opposition was the reason.
However they are going ahead with a cut to the budget for Ring and Ride which will mean an increase in fares from 60p to £1.00…
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