To date, I have met Members of Parliament whose constituencies cover the following authorities to discuss funding of concessionary travel:
Scarborough Borough Council
East Riding of Yorkshire
Exeter City Council
Worcester City Council
In the coming weeks I am also due to meet with Members whose constituencies cover the following authorities :
Harrogate Borough Council
Fareham Borough Council
The Isle of Wight Council
In addition to these authorities, departmental officials have either met or will shortly be meeting with representatives from the following local authorities:
Oxford City Council
Lancashire County Council
Bournemouth Borough Council
The Government remain confident that there is sufficient funding in total to meet the cost of the statutory minimum bus concession. The £212 million of extra funding that was provided to meet the additional cost of the extended concession is based on generous assumptions about fares, bus pass take up rate, extra journeys and additional operating costs. We will however continue to monitor the impact of the new concession.
(2) what estimate his Department has made of the difference between funding and expenditure on the national concessionary bus fares scheme in (a) England and (b) each local authority area in 2008-09.
We are confident that there is sufficient funding in total for the statutory minimum bus concession in England. The bulk of funding for concessionary travel is still given to authorities through the formula grant process (Revenue Support Grant) but it is not separately identified within that block grant. It is therefore not possible to identify how much individual authorities receive specifically for concessionary travel.
An additional £212 million is being provided by special grant this year solely to pay for the extension of the statutory concession to cover England-wide travel. Again, we are confident that this is sufficient in total and we consulted widely on the formula used to distribute it. Data on changes in authority expenditure caused by the new concession will not be available until autumn 2009.
We will shortly be consulting on possible changes to how concessionary travel is administered and any changes may provide an opportunity to consider how best to distribute the totality of funding.
Officials in the Department for Transport have had regular meetings with the Local Government Association (LGA) regarding concessionary travel. The LGA and representatives from other tiers of local government are present at regular meetings of the Department’s Concessionary Fares Working Groups.
I also met with David Sparks of the LGA on 13 January 2009 to discuss this issue.