Renewed hope of congestion charge exemption for social care workers

London mayor Ken Livingstone has agreed to review the decision not
to exempt local authority or voluntary sector social care staff
from the capital’s new congestion charge.

Trade unions are collecting evidence to support their campaign to
exempt social care staff from the £5 daily charge, which is to
be introduced on 17 February in central London.

Julian Cooke, research officer at Greater London Unison, said: “At
last there appears to be some progress with a recognition from the
mayor’s office that people such as social workers need their cars
for work.

“We are trying to compile a comprehensive list of those jobs which
should be exempt.”

Until Livingstone reviews the decision, care workers will have to
pay the charge themselves and claim it back from their local
authority. One council, Westminster, is to pay the charge for
social care staff and foster carers at a cost of more than
£200,000 a year.

At present the only workers who will have the charge refunded by
Transport for London are NHS staff on emergencies or carrying
patient records or equipment and firefighters who travel between

A spokesperson for Transport for London said: “At this stage social
care staff will not be exempt from the congestion charge but the
situation will be reviewed once we see how the system is

Unison is also concerned about the number of controlled parking
zones and parking fees that have been created ahead of the
introduction of the charge.

“We are getting calls from people who have come out of a home visit
and found that their car has been clamped or towed away,” said
Cooke. “They have to pay the release charge themselves and cancel
the rest of the day’s appointments.”

Meanwhile, the Thalidomide Trust has criticised the decision not to
exempt all people affected by the drug from the charge.

Some councils have refused to give people affected by the drug a
blue badge, which provides exemption from the charge, because they
can walk without help. 

–  See

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