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Bus Services: Concessions

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 9 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much funding has been allocated to the concessionary bus fare scheme for pensioners in 2007-08; what estimate he has made of the cost of administering the scheme; and if he will make a statement. (136028)

From April 2006, older and disabled people have been guaranteed free off-peak local bus travel within their local authority area. Statutory concessionary fares are one of the services supported through Formula Grant, which comprises Revenue Support Grant, Redistributed Business Rates and Principal Formula Police Grant.

Formula Grant is an unhypothecated block grant i.e. authorities are free to spend the money on any service. Because of this and the method of calculation, particularly floor damping (which guarantees local authorities at least a minimum percentage increase by scaling back increases for other authorities), it is not possible to say how much of the total Formula Grant funding is for any particular service. The Government provided an extra £350 million in 2006-07 and a further £367.5 million in 2007-08, via the Formula Grant system, to fund the extra costs to local authorities. The Government are confident that this should be sufficient to cover the total additional cost to local authorities of the statutory concession.

Local authorities have the discretion to offer (and fund from their own resources) enhancements to the statutory minimum, such as peak bus travel and/or concessions on other modes.