A pensioner is calling for a change in the rules after a friend, who suffers from dementia, was refused a bus ride for losing her pass.

David Hall and pal Margaret were hoping to catch the Fastrack B bus to Dartford town centre on August 4, when they were told the 80-year-old was not allowed on.

The grandmother-of-six had lost her bus pass, which entitles her to free travel, earlier in the week and had visited Dartford Library to buy a new one

She was told the new pass would not arrive for two to three weeks so kept hold of her receipt and had been using it as proof of payment to travel on other buses.

Mr Hall, 75, said: “The bus driver said she wasn’t insured to be on the bus.

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Lancashire Village that lost bus link hails £1m boost

Lanacshire Village celebrates

A £1MILLION boost to the bus network in Lancashire has been hailed as ‘fabulous news’ in a village that lost its service.

The new administration at Lancashire County Council has committed to increase the budget to support bus services from £2m to £3m.

A key priority is to restore lost links between communities, particularly in rural areas.

That was the case for about eight months in Sabden, where villagers without access to a car were effectively ‘stranded’’ in 2016.

Other plans include increasing the frequency of services on routes where there is more demand and stabilising the network to support routes that might otherwise disappear.
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MSP earning £62k asks public if he should take free bus pass or pay the fare


A GLASGOW MSP is asking constituents to help him with a dilemma of ageing.

John Mason wants to find out if people think he should apply for a free bus pass as he has just turned 60.

Mr Mason, while agreeing with the concessionary travel scheme, said he is in a well-paid job and can easily afford the bus fare.

He is grappling with the decision of using what he is entitled to or accepting something for free at a cost to the public purse, which on a MSP salary of almost £62,000 he can afford to pay for.
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State pension age to go to age 68

Teenagers and those in their twenties can expect to work to age 70 as the state pension age rises to cope with an ageing population and longer lifespans.

There are already a number of age increases planned, but that process is beginning to accelerate.

The Government has just announced that a planned increase to 68, due to happen between 2044 and 2046, will now take place between 2037 and 2039.

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The Local Government Association calls for more powers on bus passes to be devolved to them

Councils are spending £200m a year subsidising the concessionary bus fares scheme, new analysis has revealed.

The Local Government Association (LGA) warned the scheme has been underfunded for years by central government, and is being financially topped up by councils at the expense of other discretionary services.

In a new report – due to be published later this week – the LGA is calling on the Government to fully fund the concessionary fares scheme and give councils control over the Bus Service Operators’ Grant.

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA transport spokesman, said: ‘Faced with significant funding pressures, many across the country are being forced into taking difficult decisions to scale back services and review subsidised routes.

‘The way the concessionary travel scheme is funded by Whitehall has not kept up with growing demand and cost. By giving councils control over the Bus Service Operators’ Grant, and properly funding the free bus pass schemes the government could help us support and maintain our essential bus services, reduce congestion and protect vital routes.’

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Our take on Barbecues for Vegetarians

Fred Robson here – it isn’t often that we write off the topics of bus passes and pensioners benefits, though noting the ongoing interest in my last effort on Recycle coal dust and make the Winter Fuel Allowance go further in 2011 I have decided to offer my take on Barbecues for Vegetarians, due in no small part to my wife being a vegetarian, and myself a keen meat eater who also appreciates plenty of veg in the diet.
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Doubtless there are many recipes and instructions available on-line (Jamie Oliver describes his as The Ultimate vegetarian BBQ but my menus are very flexible as to which vegetables should be used. I’m taking more about cooking technique which can offer excellent results. The cooking method is very much around using foil containers which can be purchsed very cheaply from suppliers such as Wilko or can be recycled from your takeaway meals.

A good variety of vegetables are needed for my solution, including onions,tomatoes, baby sweetcorn, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, mange tout peas, broad beans, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, courgettes, aubergines – in fact any that you happen to have to hand.

Step 1 Put a dash of cooking oil in the bottom of each foil tray
Step 2 Prepare the veg and chopping to reasonably small size Veg in foil trays

Step 3 Fill the trays with veg fairly full, mixing different veg in a random way
Step 4 Sprinkle herbs and seasoning to taste
Step 5 Add garlic to suit your taste
Step 6 Seal the foil containers with the lids, silvery side down
Step 7 Place the foil trays on the BBQ at a fairly early stage, but aiming as far as possible to cook slowly as far as possible. This way your veg can be served in their natural juices.
On the BBQ
A bit of trial and error will improve your technique and avoid to much ‘caramelisation’ !
BBQ Veg
One other important tip – don’t regard this as something just for vegetarians, as your family /guests will come to appreciate this alternative method of enjoying veg alongside their meat.

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Bon Apetit as the foreigners say !
Bus Passes Blog editor

Changes to pensioner benefits mooted during the general election now appear ‘in limbo’

Pensioners have been left in limbo by the hung parliament election result, with any proposed changes put on hold until a government is formed.

The Conservatives, who were expected to win a solid majority, wanted to scrap the Triple Lock which that the state pension would rise by whichever is the highest of inflation, wage growth or 2.5%, and replace it with a ‘Double Lock’ which would remove the 2.5% annual rise. Under a Conservative government, the state pension age would increase with life expectancy.

They also planned to means-test the Winter Fuel Allowance, which is worth up to £300 a year for older people to help with their heating costs. However, now that the party has failed to win a majority, they may find it difficult to proceed with any of these plans.

Triple Lock and Winter Fuel Allowance

The Conservatives are working towards doing a deal with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to form a government, who want to maintain both the Triple Lock and the Winter Fuel Allowance.
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The State Pension is taxed, why not The Winter Fuel Allowance?

We are surprised that subjecting pensioners to new means tests is being suggested for the Winter Fuel Allowance which may require an army of means testers. It would also subject many pensioners to a process that they feel very uncomfortable with. Our suggestion for a long time has been to make WFA subject to taxation in the same way as the State Pension is. We’ve never heard anyone complaining that the very wealthy enjoy the State Pension, so what is the problem with taxing Winter Fuel Allowance? The answer that many may give is that a lot of people will be affected by this, without necessarily being on a massive income. But at least the most needy would get the pension in full, and it would stop the continual bleating about this allowance being paid tax free.

An army of means testers needed ?

An army of means testers needed ?

Pensioners could ‘lose free TV licences

Free TV licences for the over-75s could be means-tested once the BBC takes over responsibility for paying for them from the Government.

The benefit is currently universally available for all aged 75 and older, meaning that one in six households or around 4.36 million people do not pay the annual licence of £147.

But the BBC is considering scrapping this benefit for better-off pensioners, who have just learned that if the Conservatives win the general election, they could have to pay significant amounts towards the cost of their social care from savings and the value of their homes.

Supporters of the BBC, including Lord Melvyn Bragg and Lord Puttman, are reported to believe that Theresa May’s manifesto pledge to means-test the winter fuel allowance is an opportunity for the corporation to do the same with the free licences.

Lord Bragg, who voluntarily pays the licence as part of a campaign to encourage wealthy pensioners to support the BBC, told The Sunday Times he thought means-testing would be “a very sensible idea”.

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Some constructive alternatives for funding care of the elderly

There are a lot of comfortably off pensioners. And lots of poor ones. And there are a lot better ways of finding money for elderly care than Theresa May’s manifesto commitment to whipping the houses off people who need care at home.

Under the Conservative’s plan, people needing either domiciliary (aka at-home) or residential care will have to pay for everything until the value of their assets, including their home, is down to £100,000. The Tories promise that no one will be forced to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care, with the cost instead deferred and taken from their estate after death.
Care of the Elderly Costs
The plan is superficially seductive. The older generation have benefitted from spectacular – and largely unearned – increases in the value of their property. Why should younger working people, through income tax, pay for the galloping costs of elderly care when they can’t even dream of affording to buy a home themselves? Doesn’t it make more sense to instead take the money out of the congealed wealth sitting in property? And, indeed, there can be no justification for the state protecting the inheritances of the well off by taxing hard-pressed working people.

But there are two major drawbacks. Firstly, there is the risk that the elderly will delay seeking support at home because they won’t want to enter into a domiciliary care plan involving a charge on their property. They won’t get early treatment and will fall on the NHS.

The second drawback is more serious. No one chooses Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s – they choose you. Health inevitably deteriorates in old age, but the conditions that will result in intensive care costs, whether domiciliary or residential, are largely random. A quarter of the over-85s are likely to develop dementia and a third will need constant care. But that leaves large numbers not in need of intensive care. Indeed, only one in eight over-85s are in care homes.

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We don’t for a moment think that someone in their 50s with breast cancer should have a lien put upon their home to pay for their care. We share the risk by paying through our taxes for the NHS and community care services. Why, then, should we think that a random third of the over-85s should have charges added to their homes but the other two-thirds not?

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the increasing cost of care for the elderly needs to be found somewhere, and it would be unfair for the young to shoulder all the burden.

One of the oddities of the tax system is that we stop paying 12% national insurance on our earnings once we reach state pension age. The idea is that NI is basically a savings system that pays for our pensions, so once we’re in receipt of a pension we stop paying in. But NI, when first set up, was a system of insurance against illness and unemployment. If NI is supposed to help fund the NHS and care services, there is no reason why pensioners – the better off at least – shouldn’t be paying it, albeit at a reduced rate.
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