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Freedom Pass (Croydon)

Volume 508: debated on Tuesday 6 April 2010

The Petition of the people of Croydon,

Declares that the Freedom Pass is essential to the quality of life of many Croydon residents, and that the change in funding of the Freedom Pass may compromise the scheme.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take such steps as are necessary to ensure the scheme continues.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. Andrew Pelling, Official Report, 24 March 2010; Vol. 508, c. 347.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received Thursday 1 April 2010:

I would like to clarify the situation regarding the future of the Freedom Pass as there have been a lot of misleading reports on this subject. There are currently no plans either to withdraw or amend the mandatory England-wide concessionary travel scheme or the mandatory elements of the Freedom Pass scheme.

Since April 2008, the statutory minimum bus concession has provided free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England to eligible older and disabled people resident in England. The purpose of the concession is to ensure that no older or disabled person resident in England need be prevented from bus travel by cost alone. Local buses are the most commonly used mode of public transport, particularly for older people. Indeed, for many older and disabled people a free local bus service can be a lifeline, providing access to employment, healthcare and other essential services, as well as allowing people to visit family and friends.

The right to free bus travel for older and disabled people is enshrined in Primary Legislation. This includes the Freedom Pass scheme in London, which is operated by London Councils on behalf of the London Boroughs and is the largest and most generous concessionary travel scheme in the country. Some of the scheme’s characteristics are at the discretion of the London Boroughs, and London Councils is able to change these providing there is unanimous agreement amongst the Boroughs and the changes do not contravene the statutory minimum required by legislation. However, as a minimum, the scheme in London must provide free travel on the London Local Transport Network between 9.30am and midnight and the period from midnight to 4.30am on weekdays, and at any time at weekends and on Bank Holidays.

I can assure the hon. Member that the recent redistribution of special grant funding for the additional costs of the England-wide concession does not affect the ability of London Boroughs to fund their obligations for concessionary travel. They will still be left with significantly more funding than the actual burden imposed following the introduction of the extended concession in April 2008.