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Bus Services: Concessions

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 29 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if his Department will reimburse local authorities for the full cost to them of implementing the national concessionary bus fares scheme. (252280)

[holding answer 28 January 2009]: The Government are confident that there is sufficient funding in total for statutory concessionary fares.

The statutory concession was improved from April 2008 to provide free off-peak concessionary bus travel throughout England. An additional £212 million is being provided to local authorities by special grant in 2008-09, rising over the next two years, solely to pay for this improvement of the statutory concession.

In autumn 2007 the Department for Transport consulted widely on the formula used to distribute the grant. The distribution is based on generous assumptions about fares, bus pass take-up, extra journeys and additional costs, taking account of the likely demand in visitor hotspots such as coastal towns, urban centres and tourist destinations.

The special grant is solely to cover the additional cost of the new concession. Funding for the existing elements of the concession, which make up the bulk of the costs, will continue to be provided through Revenue Support Grant and is not separately identified.

The Department proposes to begin consulting shortly on possible changes to the way concessionary travel is administered. Any changes may provide an opportunity to consider how best to distribute the totality of funding.