§ Mr. Carter-Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether the Manpower Services Commission has yet reached a decision about the future of the fares-to-work scheme; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. John Grant
I very much welcome the Manpower Services Commission's proposal to introduce a new improved scheme on 5th July 1978. It is expected that, in the main, mobility allowance beneficiaries will be helped by Motability, which was set up for this purpose. For those who do not qualify for the allowance and those who do but are permanently or temporarily unable to drive, the MSC informs me that it will provide assistance, generally in the form of grants towards taxi fares, to applicants who are (1) registered disabled; (2) unable, because of disability, to use public transport; and (3) incur excess costs in travelling to and from work. Where taxis are not used, applications will be considered individually.
The grants made will be of 75 per cent of the taxi fare, subject normally to a maximum of £25 per week. Mobility allowance beneficiaries will have their grant reduced by half the current rate of mobility allowance, although this reduction may be waived in some cases, for example, where mobility allowance is committed to Motability.
For the first time, there will be no means test to be satisfied, and people in sheltered employment who are eligible as above will be included. Above all, the revised scheme will be more equitable and easier to understand and to administer than the present scheme.
It is estimated that the cost of the new scheme could be about £230,000 in 1978–79, rising to about £400,000 in 1980–81. This compares with a cost of about £75,000 under the old scheme in 1977–78.