A PLEA has been issued to the public to help save Fermanagh Community Transport.
People use the service or are related to someone who does are being encouraged to email the Department for Infrastructure to get the message over loud and clear how vital the service is to the county.
With the budget allocation for the financial year being given to the DfI, they in turn are completing a Equality Impact Assessment to help them decide where to apply their cuts with the future of the service as a whole being on the line before the June 12 deadline.
Manager Jason Donaghy said: “The proposed cuts would have an extremely adverse impact on our rural elderly and disabled. Cuts and or an ending of funding for the Rural Dial a Lift Door to Door Service would represent one of the most profound assaults on the most vulnerable.
“Having to fall back on taxis would be costly. For example, one family looked at the cost of getting a taxi for a disabled person from near Roslea to Enniskillen. They were quoted £50 for a single journey. Total that up for all the journeys they have to take that week and it comes to £400.
“If the cuts go ahead, we would be facing a massive ‘transport poverty desert’. This would impact on those who are most hidden across Fermanagh. We have the lowest population density outside of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland. So the options in terms of taxis and buses are just not there for these people.
“We’re trying to urge people to keep the pressure on. If people are prepared to allow us to use their experience of ourselves as part of our EQIA assessment, that would be a help as we’re worried that all some people are seeing are just numbers with the very human impact of this is just being hidden.
“This is also not just the person that we transport, it’s also about the people around them who will have to give up work to take care of their loved ones. There won’t be any respite for them as they’ll be moving into relative poverty by doing this.”
In response, a spokesperson from the Department for Infrastructure said: “The Resource Budget allocation for the Department for Infrastructure for 2023/24 does not meet the required need and, despite taking extensive decisions to reduce expenditure and raise revenue, the remaining budget shortfall is estimated to be £112 million.
“The Department welcomes and wants to hear all views about the potential impacts this will have on public services. Responses received by June 12, 2023 will be used to inform remaining decisions to be taken on how the Department allocates this initial resource budget.
“It is important that we assess the implications of the decisions that would need to be taken and indeed those that cannot be taken to cut funding in the absence of a Minister.”
If you wish to email your testimony on the service FCT have provided to you and your family, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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