Over-60s to keep free bus pass privileges in Scotland following a review

Following a lengthy review Over-60s will continue to enjoy free bus travel in Scotland, allaying fears the age could be raised, transport secretary Michael Matheson announced today. It follows a Scottish Government review of the £202 million a year scheme, which sparked concerns that eligibility could be narrowed because of its rising cost. In fact, Mr Matheson said the national concessionary travel scheme would be extended to include those travelling with eligible disabled children under five. He said more than 3,000 families and children could benefit.
Earlier threat of an age eligibility increase

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Grim state of UK’s bus routes revealed as figures point to 28-year low

The dire situation could get worse with even more routes under threat as Tory cuts bite deeper into town hall budgets.

Bus routes are disappearing almost as fast as railways in the 1960s under the Beeching cuts.

They are already at levels not seen since the 1980s, leaving many people isolated and cut off from towns and cities.

And the dire situation could get worse with even more routes under threat as Tory cuts bite deeper into town hall budgets.

Public transport campaigners and Mirror readers say people are being left unable to reach their doctors’ surgeries and shops.

In the 1960s, thousands of miles of track were scrapped and hundreds of stations closed after a report by British Railways boss Dr Richard Beeching. It could be the same for bus routes.

Since 2010, the Tories have nearly halved funding in England by £182million, fares have gone up by 13% above inflation and 3,347 routes have been axed or reduced.

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Local authority bus budgets cut by 45% – £182m – since 2010/11

Local authority bus budgets in England and Wales have been cut by 45% – £182m – since 2010/11, according to a transport campaign group.

The Campaign for Better Transport, in analysis released on Monday, said funding for supported buses dropped by £20.5m last year – the eight year in a row budgets have been cut.

Steve Chambers, Campaign for Better Transport’s public transport campaigner, said: “The slow death of supported bus continues, with local authority bus budgets suffering yet another cut this year.”

He added that losing a bus service can have “huge implications” for a community, such as preventing commuters getting to work, affecting peoples’ mental and physical health and wellbeing, and an inevitable effect on congestion and air pollution.

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said: “It’s nearly impossible for councils to keep subsidising free travel while having to find billions of pounds worth of savings and protect other vital services like caring for the elderly and disabled, protecting children, filling potholes and collecting bins.

“Faced with significant funding pressures, many across the country are being forced into taking difficult decisions to scale back services and review subsidised routes.”

A government spokesperson said: “We provide around £250m every year to support bus services and a further £1bn to support older and disabled people using the free bus pass scheme, benefitting people up and down the country.”

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Our comment: – a sad story, the decline of bus services in the UK

Threats to pensioners from increased taxation

Numerous birds are coming home to roost from George Osborne’s cuts of a few years ago. e.g

  • Spending on the military now considered too low
  • Funding for the NHS not sufficient to meet the needs of an increase in the numbers of elderly people, and advances in technology.
  • Local government bodies getting into difficulty

(on the last item I note from our local borough council rates leaflet that goverment grants to the council have declined steadily from £130 millions in 2013/14 to approx £20 millions in the current financial year, and will reach zero by 2020/21, whilst demands for social care change in the opposite direction.)

No wonder bus routes are being cut to a stage where older or disabled people need to look to other forms of transport, and is likely to cause increased numbers of cars on the road.

Proposals to hit the elderly include a proposal that pensioners should continue to pay national insurance into old age:

The tax that pensioners should pay to fund care

Protest rally plan over free bus passes as state pension age changes

A campaign group made up of women adversely affected by changes in the state pension age is set to hold a protest rally this month.

Members of The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) group will have to wait several years for their pension following the Government’s decision to raise their retirement age to 66 by 2020.

The previous age had been 60, meaning as many as 220,000 women from across the West Midlands have been forced to change their retirement plans as a result of the decision.

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Tens of thousands of pensioners face cuts to income after huge HMRC trawl identifies decades of errors

A huge trawl of records comparing HMRC’s official files with those held by pension schemes has identified errors dating back as long as 40 years ago.

Retired workers with both public and private sector pensions face reductions to their future pension payments, which in some cases will see their retirement income halve.

In some cases pensioners have been paid too little and will receive back payments in addition to future increases. However they will not receive any interest on the payments or compensation.

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Our comment: Is this intended to make pensioners panic that some minor omission might crop up ?

SNP minister Humza Yousaf raises ‘concerns’ over free bus passes

Scotland’s transport minister has been accused of “freely admitting” a potential shake-up over free bus travel after he raised “concerns” over their long-term sustainability. Humza Yousaf made the comments just weeks before the results of a wide-ranging consultation on raising the age of eligibilty.

He said it was important to find a balance with the scheme and ensuring affordability, due to Scotland’s ageing population. Mr Yousaf said there was “concern around the longer-term sustainability” of the scheme, with Scottish ministers considering raising the age of eligibilty. He added: “We know that we have an ageing population, an ageing demographic – as most of western Europe does – and therefore we have to find a balance between making this scheme fair, realising the benefits of it, and making it sustainable in the long term.

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