Monday 2 July 2012
Means Testing of Free Bus Passes for Pensioners
The Petition of Judith Brown and others,
Declares that the Petitioners believe that free bus passes for pensioners and disabled people enable people to take part in their community by getting out of the house, shopping, seeing friends and family, and taking part in voluntary activities in the “Big Society”, and that losing this benefit would mean more isolation, more depression and more use of NHS services and would contradict the Government’s aim of encouraging pensioners and disabled people to lead more active and stimulating lives.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to ensure that free bus passes remain non means-tested.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented, 10 May 2012; Official Report, Vol. 545, c. 5P.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:
There are no plans to introduce means testing to assess eligibility for concessionary bus travel in England. The right to free bus travel for both older and disabled people is enshrined in Primary Legislation and, in the 2010 Spending Review, the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed the Government’s commitment to protect such key benefits for older people.
Local buses are the most commonly used mode of public transport, particularly for older people and the purpose of providing free local bus travel England-wide is to ensure that no older or disabled person in England need be prevented from bus travel by cost alone.
The Government are focusing their efforts on finding efficiencies in delivering the bus travel concession, rather than by cutting back on the entitlement offered to older and disabled people. A number of reforms have been introduced which should assist local authorities to find efficiencies in delivering the concession. These include the raising of the age of eligibility, revised reimbursement guidance to assist authorities in agreeing more accurate levels of reimbursement with their bus operators and changes to administrative responsibilities, all of which should lead to economies of scale.