I have today made details available of our proposed distribution of special grant funding to local authorities to meet the additional costs of the new statutory minimum bus concession.
Around 11 million older and disabled people will gain better access to vital services and leisure opportunities from 1 April 2008 when the statutory bus concession is extended to free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England. By removing the issue of local authority boundaries as a barrier to free bus travel no older or disabled person in England need be prevented from bus travel by cost alone and this represents a major step forward in tackling in social inclusion for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
Additional funding of £212 million will be provided by special grant for the period 2008-09 followed by £217 million for 2009-10 and £223 million for 2010-11. This is in addition to the funding that Government provides each year, through the formula grant process, for the existing statutory minimum concession of free off-peak local bus travel. Government are confident this additional funding is sufficient to meet the total cost to local authorities.
A full breakdown of the amounts for each authority will be available on the DfT and CLG websites shortly. The distribution reflects responses received to our consultation on the special grant which closed on 23 November. We will publish a summary of responses shortly. The grant will be paid under section 88B of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and a full report will therefore be laid before the House in due course.