Disabled Member’s right to travel; a concession under threat

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Conference
2012 National Disabled Members' Conference
Date
6 July 2012
Decision

This Conference is appalled to learn that almost as soon as disabled people have been afforded the right of freedom to be mobile throughout the country by extended facilities to concessionary fares their right to mobility has been stripped away by local authorities’ decision to withdraw provision as part of their response to government funding cuts in public services.

Transport is a key civil rights issue, it enables disabled people the opportunity to be mobile in society as equal partners to their non-disabled peers. But as much as there have been improvements to concessionary fare provisions in recent years, with provision for some disabled people to be given the right to travel during peak travel times, use trams and rail services and to travel country-wide there is a growing threat to disabled people’s rights as local authorities choose to make public service cuts to these services.

Integrated and accessible transport is vital to disabled people’s independence, it is the key to disabled people’s economic independence through paid work, it is a factor in the way society is able to afford rights to community based activities, it plays an important role in supporting families where there is a disabled adult or child and it is central to the chance to take up a place in an inclusive education setting.

Reducing accessible transport provisions or concessionary fares is a cheap and underhand way of attacking disabled people. It reinforces historic hierarchies which systemically segregate disabled people from the rest of society and perpetuates the notion of disabled people having poor social capital.

Local authority actions to reduce travel options for disabled people are being compounded by government austerity policies within welfare reform. Reform measures that target recipients of Disability Living Allowance who use the allowance to meet the additional costs associated with mobility needs, either to pay for personal transport costs such as taxi fares, or through funding for personal vehicles through the ‘Motability Scheme’ are even more examples of how this government is driven by an ideology of segregation politics and the consequence of poverty.

This Conference instructs the National Disabled Members’ Committee to gather evidence of transport related public service cuts to include in UNISON’s anti cuts strategy against government austerity policies.