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Bus Services: Concessions

Volume 465: debated on Wednesday 24 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will ensure that grants to local authorities to cover the concessionary bus pass scheme fully reflect the number of (a) qualifying residents in and (b) visitors to an area. (160096)

From April 2006, older and eligible disabled people have been guaranteed free off-peak local bus travel within their local authority area. 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 providing local authorities in England an extra £212 million from April next year for the national bus concession. This extra funding is based on generous assumptions about the probable cost impact of the new concession, including visitor “hotspots”. We are confident this funding will be sufficient in aggregate.

The £212 million 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. It includes a number of different options for distributing the new funding, taking account of likely cost drivers including eligible residents and visitors. 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.