Calne Link could go missing
8:00am Saturday 19th July 2014 in By Anne Moore
The chairman of Calne’s Link Scheme says Wiltshire Council plans to cut mileage payments for drivers will threaten the future of the service.
The Calne Link Scheme, part of a Wiltshire-wide initiative, provides a lifeline for the elderly and disabled who have no transport of their own.
Last year volunteers drove 75,000 miles to take clients to the shops, to hospital appointments and to meet friends.
But Calne Link Scheme chairman Frank Rumble is concerned this will not be able to continue if Wiltshire Council withdraws mileage payments of 5p per mile.
The proposal to cut mileage payments for the link schemes, which is under consultation until August 30, would save Wiltshire Council £27,000 a year.
But it would mean a loss of roughly £3,750 per year for the Calne Link Scheme.
Mr Rumble said: “The problem we’ve got is, as a registered charity, we have to operate within our budget.
“If we’re not going to get this money from the council we’ve got to get it from somewhere. At the moment we don’t know where we’re going to get it from.
“If we don’t get that money we have enough reserves to see us through 18 months and then it causes a problem.
“We’re certainly very concerned that if we don’t get alternative funding from somewhere, then come 18 months time we shall start to operate at a loss.”
The Calne Link Scheme has been going for 18 years. It has up to 600 clients on its books and relies on around 45 volunteers who use their own cars.
Wiltshire Council gives out grants to the Link Schemes through Community First, but it is also proposing to re-direct this to the area boards to give out.
Mr Rumble said: “It will be part of their transport and road funding. If it goes into that block of funding, the chances of us seeing any are considered to be pretty slim.
“It just makes you wonder sometimes. The Government keeps going on about how they are going to support the elderly and yet they are going to cut something like this.”
Wiltshire Council paid out £37,046 in mileage payments in 2013/14. It also paid £45,000 through the grant scheme through Community First, but had £10,000 left at the end of the year.
A council spokesman said: “We want to ensure our funding is distributed in the most effective way to support the schemes and provide the maximum amount of essential transport.
“As a local authority we do have to make savings. This is why we are currently consulting on proposals to stop the mileage scheme, but continue our support to these groups through the grant scheme.
“We’re asking people how best to distribute this grant and for their views on any alternative suggestions for how the grant funding could be used.”
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