Thursday, November 15, 2007

Transport to work.

Fun and games trying to arrange transport to and from work.

I can't drive, due to the effects of my condition. It would be unsafe for me and everyone on the roads and pavements anywhere I was driving.

I can't walk any significant distance. Particularly, I can't walk to useful places like my workplace in the town centre...

...or the nearest bus stop even, so I can't use the buses either. Public transport is cut off for me.

I can use a mobility scooter. What I can't do is safely use a mobility scooter in the dark/cold/wet for the 45 minutes it would take to trundle from work to home after having done four hours work.

I can use taxis. Taxi fare from this house to the town centre is about £7. Taxi fare to and from would therefore be about £14. I am on minimum wage. My four-hour day earns me £20-odd quid a day, after tax and NI that will be more like £18 or £19 a day - call it £95 a week. I am prepared to make the effort to do this working thing, but I'm not prepared to throw away 75% of my earnings just on getting there and back, working myself into agonising pain and utter exhaustion for a profit of £20 a week - and neither would you. Especially when the government will give you £80-odd a week to NOT work.

The DEA told me Access To Work would pay for my transport. But I cannot get hold of them.

I *have* got hold of the local community transport people at the council. At last.

Because I have a Blue Badge, I can use community transport, and because I can't use the buses, I can get something-or-other Tokens instead of a bus-pass.

This is where we discover that community transport isn't set up for the idea of disabled people WORKING at all. Apparently all these Tokens mean is that I get 20 trips at a cheap rate of 55p a mile.

ME: Twenty trips?
Council Lady: Yes, and then it's £1.05 a mile.
ME: So given that I work five days a week, that's two weeks transport?
CL: Yes, that's right.
ME: Wow.

Still, it's 3 miles to work, so that's £3.15 per trip, or £6.30 per day, which is still half the taxi rate and leaves me with about £12 or £13 per day profit, or £65 a week. So I'll still be worse off than I was on benefit, but not *quite* so drastically. Okay, Council Lady. How do I get on this scheme?

I have to:
- Go into the council offices that are hidden round the back of wherever.
- Wait about while they photocopy my blue badge and a couple of utility bills.
- Go away hoping desperately that they will be competent.

Then Council Lady will start a referral to the transport scheme, confirming that I am resident in the area and that I am mobility-impaired and therefore need community transport.

Then Community Transport will send me a form, which I have to fill in and send back to them, and THEN I might be able to actually arrange some damn transport. God knows how long this will take. If it wasn't for Steve still being on his study break I would be screwed. If I lived alone, couldn't wangle an occasional lift, needed to really turn a liveable-on profit... this is probably the point at which I would have given up and decided to live on benefit ad infinitum.

Your (and my) tax dollars at work, people.


Naomi J. said...

You need Access to Work. They're tricky to deal with, but they've paid out hundreds worth of pounds for taxi fares for me in the two months I've been working. I travel for half an hour there and half an hour back, three times a week, and it's *free*. And I tell the taxi when to pick me up - there's no waiting around for community transport that may or may not arrive. AtW also got me a new wheelchair and various bits of computer equipment. They're a nightmare to deal with, but SO worth it. Keep calling til someone there does something for you!

Best of luck with the return to work. I've been back at work for two months, after about a year away. It's interesting... but generally a good thing.

Mary said...

I don't have any experience with community transport at present. Is it that bad for reliability? The impression I got was that it was only tricksy if you required an especially accessible vehicle, but that if you can get in and out of a regular car under your own steam, it wasn't an issue. But then I guess you can't always go on impressions.

I will carry on trying to contact AtW, if nothing else to try and make the point to that poxy DEA.

Anonymous said...

Hope everything works out for you, batsgirl, fingers crossed!
BTW I also have ME (28 years and counting)and post on the OUCH board as Penthesilie, Pen.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

I'm new to your blog. Good luck with it, I really hope it works out for you! You've hit on why I'm just not able to find a way into working, living alone just makes it impossible.
I'd be very wary of Access to Work though, they 'can' be good, but I found that when I had to leave my job for health reasons I was still waiting for them to provide the equipment they'd deemed as essential during my original workplace assessment over 6 months previously, and I've heard of problems with the transport funding running out after 3 months.
Bendy Girl

Naomi J. said...

The only community transport I know of in my area is an accessible bus that you arrange 24 hours in advance, and which never comes at the time I ask it to... I've mostly given up with it and gone back to trying to cope with London buses complete with all their access problems. But yours may be much better. I hope it is!

Mary said...

Hello Ouchers :)

There's all sorts of different transport things around here. A lot of them are set up *only* for medical appointments though, or only serve each area (suburb? district? parish?)in the town one day a week. We shall see.

Anonymous said...

Awesome blog!