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Volume 704: debated on Thursday 16 October 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 29 September (WA 411), how confident they are that the extra funding made available to local authorities is sufficient if they are not party to negotiations between bus operators and local authorities; and what research was carried out into this matter. [HL5487]

Our assessment of the likely cost impact of the new concession is based on generous assumptions about bus pass take-up, fares and increased patronage. On this basis we are confident that we have allocated sufficient funding to cover the cost of the England-wide concession—an additional £212 million to travel concession authorities from 1 April. This is being distributed by a special grant, using a formula to direct funding to areas likely to experience increased costs, such as urban and tourist centres and coastal towns and is in addition to the funding that local authorities receive through the revenue support grant.

The formula is based on factors such as local population, tourist numbers and current bus use, and was adjusted following consultation with local authorities and others last year to give a distribution that reflects where the burden of costs will occur.

Although the Department for Transport is not party to negotiations between bus operators and local authorities, it has issued guidance, offered training and provided a spreadsheet tool to help them to determine appropriate reimbursement.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many appeals are outstanding from local authorities and bus operators regarding the operation of the concessionary fares scheme; and whether they have issued guidance to the independent arbitrator on how these should be resolved. [HL5488]

One hundred applications to the Secretary of State for Transport were made by bus operators regarding the operation of travel concession schemes run by local authorities in 2008-09. Of these 48 have been withdrawn, five were rejected and 47 remain to be determined.

The Secretary of State has appointed two independent decision-makers to determine applications on his behalf. Appeals to the Secretary of State about concessionary fares schemes are considered on a case-by-case basis taking account of local circumstances and the information provided. The department has provided advice to the decision-makers regarding the relevant legislation and existing departmental guidance on concessionary fares, and during the process professional legal and economic advice will be available to them when considering how individual cases should be resolved.