Claire Sugden, Independent MLA for East Londonderry has welcomed news that Community Transport schemes will benefit from additional money.
MLA Sugden said: “I welcome additional money for Community Transport which reduces the original cut to the budget by a third.
In an answer to my Assembly question the Minister told me that the Disability Action Transport Scheme and the Dial A Lift Scheme will benefit, and the number of trips provided will be increased following their significant reduction.
I have been working with North Coast Community Transport for months. They have faced deep cuts to their budget which have reduced the service which they have been able to provide. Many people in isolated areas, who desperately need this service, have been denied it.
I have spoken with many older people who have been forced to sacrifice socialising with their friends in order to attend medical appointments. This is a disgrace; they should not have to choose between services. Opportunities to meet with others is equally important to well-being as it avoids feelings of isolation. Sadly this has been the reality for many.
This additional money only claws back a third of what was lost. It is not good enough. This is a lifeline which must be protected; the only change in its budget should be an increase. I urge the Minister to do more to protect our community transport services.”