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EXCLUSIVE: Wirral dad urges council to drop disabled transport charge plan
A WIRRAL father fears his disabled son's care will suffer as a result of planned changes to transport costs.
Widower Ken Hewer gave up his job to look after 47-year-old Neil, who has cerebral palsy.
Neil attends Highcroft Day Centre in Bebington every day and uses transport provided by Wirral Council’s adult social services department.
Under the present policy, all transport costs are included in Neil's care package and paid for from the Government’s Independent Living Fund.
But if a charging shake-up is approved, Neil and others in his situation would have to pay £5 for each door-to-door trip.
Mr Hewer said he believes the council needed to consider charging as Government budget cuts meant it cannot afford to continue the free service.
An eight-week public consultation into the proposal ends on May 19.
Mr Hewer, 69, who took over as Neil’s full-time care after the death of his wife Gillian, is concerned he will not be able to find the additional cash.
The retired industrial radiologist from Higher Bebington told the Globe: "Neil is severely disabled and is like a baby; a baby that has needed constant care for the last 47 years.
"If the proposal to charge for door-to-door transport goes through, the money available to pay for Neil’s care would be a lot less.
"It means the carers will come to our house less and less and will lead to a lot of stress for me and, no doubt, many families in the same situation.
"Some people have disability cars, but I don't. So the transport costs are a big issue for hundreds of people in Wirral."
The day care transport service is used by an estimated 500 people a week, helping them get to and from services. People using the buses are mainly elderly or have a learning disability.
Graham Hodkinson, Wirral’s director of adult social care, said: "We are currently consulting on a proposed change to transport charges, designed to standardise the amount that people pay for transport and the way they pay it.
"Currently, the cost of providing door to door transport is £9.30 per trip. We are proposing charging £5.
"The charge for transport is currently included within an individual’s financial assessment and, in the majority of cases, people do not make a contribution.
"This new proposal would mean we would expect people to a contribution from the money they receive, with safeguards in place to prevent hardship under the new arrangements. People will also be able to appeal."
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