10 working days have elapsed since I submitted the Stage 1 Appeal to travel assist – the time within which their own policy states that they will make and communicate a decision.
I’ve emailed them, and I’ve called twice. Nobody has responded to my email, nobody has got back to me following my phone calls.
I’ll phone them again tomorrow, on the hour.
In the meantime, a friend sent me a useful link to this job advertisement: http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cs/Satellite?c=BCC_Vacancy_C&childpagename=SystemAdmin%2FCFPageLayout&cid=1223525008441&packedargs=subtype%3DVacancyDetail&pagename=BCC%2FCommon%2FWrapper%2FCFWrapper&rendermode=live
I’m not sure that the link is working – not sure why – so here are key points:
A salary of up to £51,422 per annum will be paid to a team manager at travel assist. This person will be “supporting the move to independent travel arrangements” and needs to be able to “demonstrate commitment to the inclusion agenda“.
The advertisement talks about the employee “developing independent travel provision options while continuing to manage the current service“, so it’s slightly ambiguous as to how long the current service is intended to operate (this is an 18 month fixed term contract). But “the move to independent travel arrangements” doesn’t look good. It suggests what we and other parents and interested parties have been suspecting: that this year’s refusals are the start of the Council drastically reducing, and possibly withdrawing altogether. There’s been no consultation around this massive policy shift, as far as anyone I’ve spoken to can tell – a policy decision which surely required consultation and an impact assessment, if ever one did.
It’s hard to see what the Council can mean by “independent travel arrangements”. It may be different for the older, higher functioning children and I’d love it if it were true for my son one day. But there is no travel arrangement they can suggest which will offer very young and very disabled children any amount of independence. These children are hugely dependent, and removing the services which support them will not make that fact go away.
I can only imagine that they mean that the travel arrangements will be independent of the Council. The Council will cease to provide support and will pass on all the responsibility for enabling children to physically access education to parents and carers, despite the statutory duty upon the Council to do this and the fact that it will be physically impossible for many parents and carers to do.
This will not give disabled children any degree of independence. It will render some families, like ours, dependent upon the state. The only independence that I can see is for the Council, to be independent of its duties to the most vulnerable inhabitants of the city.