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Bus Services: Concessions

Volume 473: debated on Monday 17 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 6 March 2008, Official Report, column 2753W, on concessions: mentally ill, if she will make it her policy to hold a consultation on broadening the scope of the eligibility criteria for statutory concessionary bus fares. (193732)

The Transport Act 2000 (or for those resident in London, the Greater London Authority Act 1999) make provision for concessionary travel to a wide range of disabled people. Categories of disability were drawn up following representation from local government and support from the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. The people eligible are as follows:

Any person who:

is blind or partially sighted;

is profoundly or severely deaf;

is without speech;

has a disability, or has suffered an injury, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his/her ability to walk;

does not have arms or has long-term loss of the use of both arms;

has a learning disability, that is, a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning;

would, if he/she applied for a grant of a licence to drive a motor vehicle under part III of the Road Traffic Act 1988, have his/her application refused pursuant to section 92 of the Act (physical fitness) otherwise than on the ground of persistent misuse of drugs or alcohol.

The Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 does not change the criteria for those eligible for a concessionary pass. The Act retains the discretion of travel concession authorities to offer their residents more than the statutory minimum concession. Any such enhancements are subject to their assessment of local needs and their overall financial priorities.

The Secretary of State issued guidance to local authorities which sets out the statutory minimum requirement which they must observe to satisfy the law, and to which they must have regard in reaching a decision on eligibility.

We have no plans at present to consult on changes to the eligibility criteria for statutory concessionary bus travel to include other groups of people, such as those with mental health illnesses. Our current focus is on the successful implementation of the new all-England off-peak bus travel concession from April this year.

Local authorities retain the ability to offer discretionary concessions over and above the statutory minimum at their own expense. This can include offering concessionary travel to groups of people other than those currently defined in legislation.

Initial analysis suggests that the estimated annual cost of extending the statutory concession to people with a mental impairment would be at least £49 million.