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Travel Concessions

Volume 473: debated on Thursday 13 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she is taking to ensure that local authorities receive funding from central Government to fully cover the costs of implementing the national concessionary fares scheme. (193111)

The Government are confident that the overall level of funding for the statutory minimum provision of concessionary travel is sufficient to cover the full cost.

Following the introduction of the free off-peak local bus travel concession within local authority areas in April 2006, central Government provided an extra £350 million in 2006-07 and £367.5 million in 2007-08 for statutory concessionary fares through the revenue support grant. The Department is now paying an additional special grant of £212 million in 2008-09 (rising thereafter) just to cover the cost of extending the statutory minimum bus concession to provide free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England. This additional amount of £212 million is based on our assessment of the likely cost impact of the new concession which is based on generous assumptions about pass take-up, fares and increased patronage.

The proposed distribution of this grant was published by the Department for Transport in the Special Grant Report (No. 129) on 19 February. The final distribution will be subject to parliamentary debate and a copy of the report is in the Library of the House.

In addition, the Government paid a grant of over £31 million in total to travel concession authorities (TCAs) in England outside London in this financial year (2007-08) to cover the cost of issuing concessionary travel passes. The passes grant to each TCA is based on an allowance of £4 for each pass currently in circulation, uplifted by 20 per cent. to recognise that the new concession is likely to be more attractive than the existing one.