You spend a lot more time lobbying for change than seeing it in our line of work, so today’s new guidance from the Department of Transport, which should make it much easier for care and support services who transport people as part of their wider work, is a rare victory. We’ve been campaigning on this issue for years. Here’s an example of why it matters:
Companions is a micro-domiciliary care service established to provide consistent, responsive and flexible care for a small group of older people, who pay for the service from personal budgets or their own money. The providers consulted widely with potential customers before setting up the service. These older people found it difficult to use public transport and were essentially confined to their homes, isolated and lonely. Top of their ‘wish list’ was help to go out into the community and to meet their friends. Companions designed a service which included using their own cars to take people out but were told that they would have to be licensed as private hire vehicles. The costs and complexity of obtaining a licence were insurmountable, so they have, until now, not been able to provide the service most desired by their customers.
The new guidance takes a pragmatic approach to clarifying a complex area of law, from which other departments could learn. This change may seem dry and technical, but it will result in many disabled and older people being able to get out of their houses for the first time in years.
This will be one of the important regulatory changes highlighted in the new ‘map’ for micro-enterprises which NAAPS UK is developing with support from government and which will be published in the Autumn. You can find out more on the news page at www.naaps.org.uk