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Bus Services: Concessions

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 17 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much has been allocated to Chorley borough council to fund the free local concessionary bus travel scheme in 2007-08; (158729)

(2) what increase in the rate support grant Chorley borough council will receive to fund free national off-peak travel for pensioners and disabled people for 2008-09.

From April 2006, older and disabled people have been guaranteed free off-peak local bus travel within their local authority area. The existing funding for statutory concessionary fares is 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.

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.

The £212 million of extra funding to English authorities for the national bus concession from April 2008 will be distributed by a non-ringfenced special grant via a formula. The Department has recently published a consultation paper on the formula basis for distribution of the special grant. This new consultation supersedes the Department for Communities and Local Government’s consultation on the formula grant options for concessionary fares. Local authorities have been asked to respond to the special grant consultation by 23 November.

In addition, we have announced that we will be providing local authorities with approximately £30 million for the issuing of the national pass; it is likely that Chorley borough council will receive around £69,000 of this additional funding.