Home   Bury St Edmunds   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Motion for review of free travel permits for unpaid carers struck down





A motion calling for a review of free travel permits for unpaid carers has been struck down.

It was presented by Cllr Sandy Martin, the Labour group’s deputy leader, during yesterday’s full county council meeting.

It asked the council to call on the cabinet to examine the issues surrounding family carers with a view to introducing discretionary free travel permits for all those in receipt of a carer’s allowance.

A motion calling for a review of free travel permits for unpaid carers has been struck down. Picture: Jason Noble
A motion calling for a review of free travel permits for unpaid carers has been struck down. Picture: Jason Noble

Cllr Martin said: “For many family carers, owning a car and driving their loved ones to the places they need to go is a pipe dream, yet there is no automatic entitlement to travel support for those carers.

“Every single one of those carers is providing invaluable support to their loved ones and the county council, with our social care responsibilities, could not possibly hope to replicate.”

Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger, who is responsible for adult care, acknowledged the valuable work of Suffolk’s carers but argued the council’s financial position was too fragile to go ahead with the motion.

Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger. Picture: Suffolk County Council
Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger. Picture: Suffolk County Council

She said: “This entire council owes a debt of gratitude to every unpaid and family carer who provides care and support to someone in our county.

“But, unlike the opposition, I have a responsibility to find the money to pay for the things I want to see happen.”

Cllr Hopfensperger added that unless a travel company came on board to provide free travel, the permits would amount to an unsustainable subsidy.

Cllr Sandy Martin. Picture: Suffolk County Council
Cllr Sandy Martin. Picture: Suffolk County Council

“We have no idea how much this would cost,” she said.

“No matter how nice this idea is, I cannot support it because it would not be sustainable as there is no money to deliver it.”

However, Cllr Martin pointed out the motion asked for a review to be conducted and did not commit to travel permits being made available.

He said: “You [Cllr Hopfensperger] said you had no idea of how much it would cost, don’t you think it would be useful to examine the issues with a view to possibly doing something about it?

“At least, please, examine the issues and find out whether they could and would need to receive our support.”

Despite Cllr Martin’s plea, the motion was defeated with 13 votes in support and 31 against.