Category Archives: N Ireland

‘Hands off our bus pass’ campaign in Northern Ireland in face of mounting financial pressures

SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey has expressed support for the ‘Hands Off of our bus pass’ campaign in response to news that funding for the concessionary fares scheme could be under threat.

Mr Ramsey says he is fully behind the Age Sector Platform campaign, and says he has been contacted by a number of people in Derry who are “angry and outraged” at the thought such a vital resource could be taken away.

“To think this hugely important scheme could be stripped away from the most vulnerable people in our society is outrageous and people are rightly angry about this,” said Mr Ramsey.

“The scheme is vital to so many of our older people and was pursued by the SDLP for many years. I have no doubt that had it not been for the work of party colleagues in the past this scheme would never have got off the ground
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Wales’ learning disability football team makes debut against Northern Ireland

A new squad of Welsh footballers has tasted international competition.

The first Wales learning disability team faced Northern Ireland at Bangor City’s Nantporth Stadium in Gwynedd, losing 2-0 to the visitors.

More than 700 players represent clubs in the Welsh Pan-Disability League and 16 have been chosen for the fixture.

“It’s a massive achievement and I can’t say just how proud I am to be involved in it and it’s the same for the lads,” said team manager Grant Kalahar.

“All of these lads have learning difficulties. There are other attributable issues as well, such as the frustrations that come with not being able to learn and there’s behavioural problems attached.

“So what we tend to do is get to know the players absolutely inside out, so we can see the little triggers early.”

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15,000 deceased bus pass users invited to renew

A combination of mistakes, technical errors and fraud has cost the Northern Ireland taxpayer 24 million, according to the Northern Ireland Audit Office said.

Housing benefit, rates and pensions were targeted by fraudsters while concessionary travel passes and disabled parking badges for dead people were still being used, the NIAO said.

There were more than 15,000 matches between concessionary travel pass holders and death records. Some 14,000 of these passes had been cancelled by the end of March this year;

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N Ireland minister considering removing bus and train passes from wealthier pensioners.

RECENTLY we were informed that our Minister of Social Development, Nelson McCausland, was considering removing bus and train passes from wealthier pensioners.

What is meant by wealthier? What would be the break-off point?

Who will get passes and who won’t? Think of the cost of the bureaucracy that will be required to monitor such a scheme – it will probably cost more than the passes used by the so-called wealthier pensioners.

Why were passes given to those over-60s who were still working?

They should be given only to those who are receiving the state pension, irrespective of them also receiving a work pension. The pass system is, nevertheless, an important method of subsidising public transport.

The minister needs to be very careful about targeting pensioners.

They are a very active group when it comes to polling at elections.

What really needs to happen before the next Stormont election is the setting up of a new party – let’s call it the Third Age Party, which could not only look after the elderly in our society but add considerable wisdom and experience to the political scene.
Read more in ‘The Minister’

Northern Ireland buses get electronic back-seat driver

The devices beep and flash at drivers who accelerate too quickly or brake harshly

Motorists are constantly advised that smooth driving saves fuel.

Ulsterbus has taken the advice to heart by fitting electronic monitors to some of its buses.

These electronic “backseat drivers” beep and flash at drivers who accelerate too quickly or brake harshly.

It is part of a pilot scheme being tried out in and around the County Down town of Bangor.

So far it has reduced the company’s fuel bill and prevented tons of CO2 entering the atmosphere.

“It’s a project that we started 12 months ago,” Ulsterbus’s service delivery manager Richard Hudson said.

“We put a piece of equipment into the driver’s cab which monitors acceleration and braking of each driver to reduce diesel consumption.

“We’ve reduced it by 7.5% and we’ve also saved in the region of 80 tons of CO2. That’s the equivalent of 1,600 hundred return journeys by car from Bangor to Dublin.”
Read more on BBC News website

Elderly couple gain £30,000 in benefits… thanks to welfare adviser

Christmas has come early for an elderly couple after they were handed £30,000 worth of unclaimed benefits they had no idea they were entitled to.

And the ‘Robin Hood’ benefits adviser who secured the money for the two pensioners estimates there are countless thousands of pounds not going to people who are fully entitled to them.

Kathleen Bradley of the Dove House Community Resource |Centre in Londonderry is now urging everyone in receipt of any benefit to have an entitlement check done.

“This is an elderly couple in their 70s who, like many people their age, thought the only thing they were entitled to was their old age pension,” said Kathleen.

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Read more in Belfast Telegraph:

Northern Ireland Executive receives £22m to help pay for road repairs and concessionary bus fares for pensioners

The Northern Ireland Executive has received an extra £22m from the Treasury.

The funds have been spread across departments – helping to pay for road repairs and concessionary bus fares for pensioners.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has also redistributed millions of pounds in unspent funds.

Government departments handed back around £75m.

This includes £30m from the Department of Enterprise about half of which was not spent by Invest Northern Ireland.

An additional £10m has been allocated towards an affordable housing scheme for first-time buyers.

Read more on BBC News

Pensioners missing out on billions of pounds by not comparing deals

PENSIONERS lost a staggering £7billion in retirement income over the last decade – simply because they did not compare deals from pension firms.

More than two-thirds of people (68%) accepted the pension they were offered from the company they saved up with, rather than checking to see if they could get a better deal elsewhere.

Yet, the majority could have boosted incomes by anything from 10% to 30% – and half of pensioners could get up to 45% more because they have medical/lifestyle conditions that mean they qualify for an enhanced income.

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Go Camping for 95p! Vouchers collectable in the Daily and Sunday Mirror until 11th August . Click here for more information

Read more: Daily Mirror

FAQ: English bus passes accepted in Scotland ? our findings

With summer aproaching we are getting lots of emails with variations on this question, can I use my English bus pass in Scotland, Wales, N Ireland, Republic of Ireland and vice versa.

The official answer is ‘no’ bus passes /freedom passes are only usable in the home ‘country’ of England,Scotland, Wales, N Ireland, though there are some cross border situations where journeys e.g. in Wales are allowed into England.

We also heard from a Yorkshireman who had been on a holiday to Scotland and was upset that his bus pass wasn’t always accepted. Looking on the bright side it seems his English bus pass was accepted sometimes in Scotland.

So maybe if you care to chance your luck when ‘abroad’ you may get some free journeys. We’ll be interested to hear about how it went for you.