campaign is backed by the National Pensioners’ Convention. It aims to get all
major political parties to pledge,
before the General Election, that, if elected, they will keep the England bus pass as a statutory universal entitlement free at the point of use.
THIS IS WHY YOU NEED TO BE CONCERNED!
In ‘Conservative Home’, 23.09.11, new MP Brandon Lewis (since promoted to Under-Secretary of State), wrote what colleagues dreamed of, but up to then hadn’t daren’t to come out with: to abolish the England bus pass as a universal entitlement free at the point of use.
As a close ally of Eric Pickles, Mr. Lewis’s suggestions almost certainly were being quietly considered by ministerial colleagues, and a report in the ‘Independent’ July 2012 stated that, if Mr. Cameron were returned in 2015, he would cut the pass alongside other entitlements (and in January 2014 he refused to commit to retaining the pass).
Nick Clegg famously called for a ban on ‘millionaires’ riding the buses for free, which would save next to nothing, as the pass, unlike a season ticket, doesn’t have a fixed value, the cost to the public purse being cal-culated on the global cost of all journeys made (millionaires making few – if any!), but a neat way of establishing the principle of means-testing, which can then be extended over time to cover more and more people.
Brandon Lewis wrote: “It is a successful and popular policy, which we rightly pledged to retain, as it makes a difference to so many pension-ers’ lives. Yet, it is a policy that no government could have financially sustained. My own county council in Norfolk face axing subsidised bus services in order to deal with a 38% funding reduction. The bus pass risks becoming worthless if there are no bus routes to use them on. There is anecdotal evidence that many pensioners apply for a bus pass simply because of entitlement, but never use it, or only sporadically.” “Is it time to look at some form of charging? Already, one bus company is requesting a voluntary contribution from pass holders in order to maintain a route. A flat rate of 50p per trip would generate over £5m a year in Norfolk, an easy and relatively pain-free way of plugging the gap. Another option is to limit the number of trips taken per year, to say 50, and have a reduced rate for every trip taken after this. Should we look at issuing passes to households that don’t have a car, better target the scheme to those most in need without the need for means-testing?” “
Ahead of the election, we avoided discussing reform for fear of alarming millions of key voters: we need to urgently look at reform now.”
Please sign and send in the petition form.
Please collect as few or as many signatures as you wish (but the more, the better!). You’ll find it’s ever so easy. All ages are welcome to sign: youngsters have grandparents, while those of working age have parents, and will want to be sure of having a pass as they come of age.
Click here for a copy to print off.
Please pass word on to friends and family in all parts of England: if they (or you!) call or e-mail their contact details), I will e-mail or post them forms. The target is 100,000 by 10 September 2014, when we head for No. 10 (by bus!) from all parts of England. Thank you for your support.
It is a deliberate policy that this is an old-style pen-on-paper petition because of the many conversations and hence awareness this process generates, since we all need to be aware that at the 2015 General Election, our votes could decide whether, in years to come, there will still be an England pass for older and blind or disabled people to enjoy, and continue to make their full contribution to society.
As the campaign nears its target we plan to also do an on-line petition but the focus for now is on pen on paper: 40,533 have signed up so far.
Love the Bus Pass is a real grass-roots effort which can only succeed because you and lots of other people of goodwill in all parts of England, of all ages, get out there amongst family, friends, neighbours, at clubs and events of whatever kind, to help reach (or pass) 100,000-plus!
Because of the large number of forms now in circulation it isn’t possible to acknowledge receipt unless you give an e-mail address or send an SAE with completed forms: and, if you can help us contain costs and spread the word by sending the odd second-class stamp (or six!), then Super Sandra, Walsall Pensioners’ Convention Treasurer, won’t object!