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Friday, January 03, 2014

Transport scheme to help people into work

People living in Skelmersdale and Up Holland are being offered transport options by West Lancashire Borough Council to help them enter employment.

The Council is continuing with the demand responsive taxi service which links residential and employment areas in those areas that are not on bus routes. Members can use the taxi firm signed up to the service at a subsidised rate.

West Lancs Council teamed up with Lancashire County Council to introduce the pilot scheme in May 2012 which was designed to help people who had difficulty accessing employment because they don’t have their own transport.

It currently has 281 members, 104 of whom use the scheme every week. Many members have said they would not have been able to get to jobs without it.

The Council is also proposing to introduce in April/May 2014 a nine-month pilot cycle-to-work scheme. Job seekers and workers earning less than £17,500 a year can apply for a £50 grant to buy a re-conditioned bike provided they meet the scheme’s criteria.

Other authorities who have set up cycle to work scheme say they have helped a number of people into work.

Councillor Martin Forshaw, portfolio holder for Planning and Development, said: “I am delighted that we are able to provide different options to help people into employment and keep them there.

“Membership figures show the taxi service is very popular and has helped a number of people take jobs and keep them. Some changes have been made to the eligibility criteria to ensure the scheme helps the people who need it most and can continue for a much longer period.

“I am sure the cycle to work scheme will also be very popular and successful.”

Money for the taxi project has come from developer contributions provided by Pepsi Co UK. Funding is limited and in its current format the scheme would not be able to continue for more than two to three years.

West Lancashire Borough Council has agreed some changes to reduce the costs of the scheme to a more sustainable level. The changes mean workers earning £17,500 per year or more are no longer eligible, and people can only be members for a maximum period of six months from the date the original acceptance letter was sent to them.

People affected will be given at least one months notice that their membership of the scheme is to cease.

Criteria for the new cycle to work scheme are very similar to those for the taxi service. To qualify people must live in people living in Skelmersdale or Up Holland, and they must not be able to make the journey to work on the Pimbo Industrial Estate reasonably on existing public transport. They must also be referred to this service by Job Centre Plus or a private employment/recruitment firm as someone to whom transport has presented an obstacle to entering work.

The cost of the pilot scheme is expected to be £9,920. Funding will come from developer contributions.

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