Earlier this year The Sunday Post revealed how the Scottish Government is planning to increase the eligibility age for the popular concessionary travel scheme.
It is expected this will see the minimum age rise from 60 to 65 with current pass-holders unaffected.
Figures released under freedom of information laws show that last year £45m of the £187.7m spent on the free bus pass scheme was accounted for by users in the 60 to 64 age bracket.
Around one in five holders of the free bus pass are between the ages of 60 and 64, with many of them working commuters.
Meanwhile, a new poll has revealed the majority of older Scots have backed the age increase.
Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman Neil Bibby MSP said: “The SNP is failing passengers up and down the country.
“Under the nationalists, vital services have been cut while ticket prices have gone up. Communities have been left stranded as key routes have been scrapped.
Think you’ll get a free bus pass at 60? Think again
THE age at which Scots qualify for a free bus pass is to rise, The Sunday Post can reveal.
In the face of soaring costs, SNP ministers are planning to increase the eligibility age for the popular concessionary travel scheme from 60.
A public consultation on the move will get under way later this year but it is understood current holders of the free bus pass will be unaffected.
The move was meant to have been launched this month but has now been put off until after May’s council elections.
The plan would leave Scots worse off than many parts of England, such as London, where the concessionary travel scheme starts at 60.
Around 200,000 people between the ages of 60 and 65 currently hold a free bus pass with many people who have retired early enjoying the benefits of the card.
Last month a £10 million black hole in the funding for the bus pass scheme was revealed in the Scottish Government’s draft budget.
Grilled by MSPs on whether entitlement for bus pass holders would remain unchanged in the wake of this cash shortfall, a top Transport Scotland official pointedly said: “For those who have the card, yes, absolutely.”
Fifty thousand pensioners have been forced to sell their homes to pay for social care in the last year, despite a Government pledge that nobody would have to use their house to pay.
House of Commons library figures show that tens of thousands of older people have put their properties on the market to cover care costs, amid fears that the trend may continue because councils do not have enough money for social care.
It comes just days after ministers announced that local authorities will be allowed to hike council tax to try and plug the funding black hole which could increase bills by £90 next year.
Councils across England will be allowed to increase the social care precept element of the bill by an additional one per cent next year and the same in the year after, adding up to a six per cent hike by 2018/19.
The Conservative manifesto promised that older people would not be forced to sell their homes to pay for care and announced a £72,000 cap on how much pensioners would have to pay before the state takes over their bills.
he Government’s flagship triple lock that protects pensioners’ incomes could be scrapped after the next General Election because people are living longer, Phillip Hammond has revealed.
The lock was introduced in 2012 and guarantees that the state pension rises each year by whichever of price inflation, average earnings growth or 2.5 per cent is highest.
The Chancellor yesterday said that the state pension will continue to rise until at least 2020 but suggested that changes may be needed after that to “tackle the challenge of rising longevity”.
It comes after growing fears over “intergenerational fairness” as pensioners have been sheltered from the impact of austerity cuts while working age poverty increases.
Poor pensioners and bedroom tax
Thousands of poorer pensioners will be hit by a new “bedroom tax”, despite the Government’s promises to protect the elderly from the hugely controversial benefit cuts.
They are poised to lose at least £300 a year because their homes will be deemed to be “underoccupied”, slashing their incomes or forcing them to move – away from family and friends, or to flats that are unsuitable for older people.
In some cases, the financial pain will be greater – one housing association has identified pensioners in part of the North who are set to lose a staggering £1,700 a year.
Damian Green, the new Work and Pensions Secretary, has indicated pensioner benefits may be cut after 2020 as he pledged to tackle “intergenerational fairness”.
In his first major interview since taking up the job, Mr Green defended the government’s current support for pensioners and heralded the fall in poverty among the elderly.
However he also said it was “absolutely” necessary to consider “over time” whether different generations are getting a fair share of the proceeds of economic growth.
It follows criticism of David Cameron’s decision to ring-fence pensioners from austerity cuts, introducing a “triple lock” on pensions and sticking with a promise of free bus passes and TV licenses.
PENSIONERS waved placards as they staged a protest against council plans to demolish a city centre toilet block – but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Members of the North Staffs Pensioners’ Convention descended on Stoke-on-Trent City Council yesterday to show their opposition to the proposals for Crown Bank toilets in Hanley.
They were supporting a motion to full council from Labour councillor Joan Bell, which called on the authority to refurbish and reopen the facilities.
But despite their backing, the motion was rejected 21 votes to 16 after being opposed by Conservative and City Independent members.
The coalition groups say the toilets, which were closed in November, attracted anti-social behaviour and were not safe to keep open.
STAFFORD’S bus depot is set to shut next month, with the loss of jobs and a number of town centre bus routes.
From September 3 Arriva’s services to Wildwood are set to be withdrawn, although a service along Cannock Road will be maintained, and services to Baswich will be reduced and amended. A section of the route between County Hospital and Staffordshire Technology Park is also being axed.
Route 76, between Stafford and Wolverhampton, will cease its standard service, Arriva has said, and the firm will no longer run the corridor between Wolverhampton and Penkridge outside of the Sunday service. Penkridge to Stafford will still be served by route 75
Rob Cheveaux, Area Managing Director for Arriva Midlands (West), said: “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, low passenger numbers on some of our routes have meant that it is no longer commercially viable for us to continue operating them as they currently are. Although we are regretful for any potential inconvenience this will cause people living along these routes, we have, where possible, worked to find alternative solutions which will be sustainable in the long-term and will enable those customers affected to still be served by a simpler, stronger bus service.
THE revelations that nearly a third of all bus journeys taken in Yorkshire are free concessions and cost the taxpayer £100m, will no doubt raise a few eyebrows. In North Yorkshire the figure is even higher with these concessionary fares for the elderly and disabled accounting for nearly half of all journeys. On the face of it this sounds like an awful lot of money to be spending on subsidised bus fares with critics arguing the numbers simply don’t stack up at a time of major spending cuts. However, the biggest concern is that the elderly and vulnerable will be left in a situation where they have a free bus pass – but no bus to travel on. As wise owl Coun John Blackie, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) member for Hawes, points out, this undermines the whole point of having such a scheme. But something has to be done. Local bus services are an essential lifeline for many elderly, vulnerable and disabled people – particularly those living in more rural areas – giving them a degree of independence without which they would be at risk of becoming more socially isolated which can, in turn, lead to other health problems.
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Our comment: Our editor, having lived in Cllr Blackie’s neck of the woods, confirms that the value of a bus pass in places like rural Wensleyale is negligible compared to urban areas due to the paucity of bus services. And we shouldn’t overlook either the fact that older people are using their bus passes to go out and spend money which the rural economy needs.
The triple-lock protection for state pensions should be dropped to save billions of pounds for better causes, according to the outgoing pensions minister. The Department for Work and Pensions declined to rule out a review of the “totemic” policy in the coming months.
Under the triple-lock guarantee, pensions have risen every year since 2010 by whichever is the higher figure – the rate of inflation, average earnings or a minimum of 2.5%. This has lifted many pensioners out of poverty, but Baroness Altmann, who left her post as pensions minister this month, said the cost beyond 2020 would be “enormous”.
In an interview with the Observer, she said the billions of pounds of spending it entailed could be better used, following a period in which pensioners have enjoyed swiftly rising living standards relative to the rest of society.
Altmann also revealed that she had privately lobbied David Cameron a year ago to drop the commitment of hiking pensions year-on-year by 2.5% when earnings and price inflation are low, but that the then prime minister had blocked the change on political grounds.
Councillors Andy Kelly and Irene Davidson are campaigning against cuts to the 182 bus service between Rochdale and the Royal Oldham Hospital
A campaign has been launched against ‘draconian’ cuts to a bus service between Rochdale and the Royal Oldham Hospital.
Day time off peak 182 services are to be scrapped from Monday.
Operator First says it’s due to falling passenger numbers.
But campaigner say the service, which begins and ends at the interchange in Rochdale town centre and travels through Milnrow, Newhey, Shaw, Royton and the Royal Oldham Hospital to Manchester, is vital for patients and pensioners.
not a wise move if he wants to be re-elected, though with most of the country having to wait to age 66 and London 60+ passes covering tube also it sounds quite generous.