proposal to raise eligibility age for concessionary travel could have damaging effect on bus services in rural Scotland

The Scottish Government’s proposal to raise the eligibility age for concessionary travel could have a damaging effect on bus services in South-West Scotland, SWestrans, the area’s regional transport partnership, has warned.

Responding to Transport Scotland’s concessionary fares consultation (LTT 15 Sep), SWestrans says that any raising of the age eligibility criteria could see the number of bus journeys fall.

 

Scottish Borders Council backs free bus pass age rise

Sad to hear,  but

Councillors in the Borders have backed increasing the age at which people are eligible for a free bus pass to the state pension age.

The Scottish government is consulting on changing the qualification criteria.

It could mean people aged 60 and over would not automatically be entitled to free bus travel in Scotland.

Scottish Borders Council backed increasing the age but also wanted to ensure people with disabilities kept getting the pass regardless of age.

However, in neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway the region’s transport partnership – Swestrans – has urged no changes to the scheme.

It has said any move to raise the age level could threaten local services.

The consultation on any changes was announced earlier this year.

It could see the scheme – introduced in 2006 – extended to Modern Apprentices and those on Job Grants but it is looking at the “long-term sustainability” of offering all those over 60 free travel.

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Dundee council rejects Scottish Government bid to raise bus pass age limit to 65

Council chiefs are set to reject proposals to raise the age limit on free bus travel — as they call on ministers to protect local services.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on a proposal to raise the age at which free bus travel can be claimed from 60 to 65.

The proposed change could take effect next year, when the women’s state pension age is equalised with that of men at 65.

However, Dundee City Council council bosses are officially opposed to the move and next week members look set to ratify a statement that will be sent to ministers — saying occasional bus users are being hit by higher prices needed to fund the scheme.

The council said in its statement: “The bus is primarily used by people travelling around their local communities — again people mainly from low-income households, elderly and disabled, women and younger people. The Government should be safeguarding expenditure for those modes of transport that support those with most need in society.

“If Government is to push ahead with this change, a significant proportion of the savings should be ring-fenced for supporting the local bus network.”

A report to be considered at the city development committee on Monday states that the current reimbursement system has driven up the costs of adult single tickets — making bus travel for occasional users seem expensive.

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Greater Manchester Women affected by pension changes could benefit from free off peak travel

The move comes after Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, made a commitment in his manifesto to support the women most affected.

The group experiencing the longest delays to their pension are those who were born between December 1953 and November 1954, who will have to wait an extra 18 months before they receive their pension – and were not properly notified of the change following the 2011 Pensions Act.

This accounts for up to 14,000 women across Greater Manchester. In addition women born in both October and November 1953 were amongst the group who received the least notice of the changes and have yet to qualify for their State Pension and so are also being included in the proposals.

Based on research conducted by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), leaders are now set to discuss the introduction of free off peak concessionary travel in Greater Manchester for these women at the next meeting of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) on 27 October.

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the bus is helping to drive Scotland’s economy

It is a maligned mode of transport, but the bus is helping to drive Scotland’s economy, says Martyn McLaughlin. With an unrivalled location on the Black Isle’s north-west coast and panoramic views of the Cromarty Firth, it should come as no surprise that the village of Culbokie is increasingly favoured by those who work in Inverness. On a good day, it takes a little over 20 minutes to skirt across the Kessock bridge, a commute well worth it for the chance to reside in one of Scotland’s most picturesque spots.
The only caveat, however, is that you need a car. In April, Stagecoach withdrew its service after losing out in a Highland Council re-tendering exercise. Now, residents in the rural nook who wish to travel to Inverness by public transport are forced to traipse nearly two miles to flag down a passing service, and even then, their window of opportunity is limited. According to Norlil Charlton, a member of a local action group battling to get a direct service reinstated, it is impossible to get to Inverness before 10am, or return to Culbokie after 2:30pm. The only alternative is to hitch a lift, or pay around £50 for a round trip in a taxi. At least one family has moved to Cromarty as a result.

Read more at: http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/martyn-mclaughlin-public-buses-are-lifeline-and-vital-to-scots-economy-1-4589528

 

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Cruel scammers are preying on elderly victims through computers and smart phones

Cruel scammers are preying on elderly victims through computers and smart phones, MPs were warned.

Web fraudsters are forcing older people offline for good after preying on elderly victims through computers and smart phones, MPs were warned.

OAPs’ confidence in digital technology is so shaken by internet crime they decide they no longer want to be online, the Public Accounts Committee was told.

Victims are even going into care homes after being targeted, experts revealed.

Age UK policy chief Jane Vass said there was “huge scope to do much, much more” to tackle web tricksters.

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Universal Benefit System in deep water again


Universal Benefits IT system in trouble

The Labour MP for north west Durham has asked Theresa May whether the rollout of Universal Credit is a matter of “gross incompetence or calculated cruelty”, as Labour MPs applied further pressure on welfare reform.

Laura Pidcock was among those to raise the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions, as the Government prepares to face a Labour-led debate on the benefit in the Commons.

The Prime Minister said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was listening to concerns and improvements were being made to the system, which rolls a number of benefits into a single payment.

Universal Credit is not just a benefit for jobseekers, it is for people in work to subsidise their low pay, for carers and for those that cannot work.

My constituents in North West Durham have endured the brunt of austerity for many years.

Now the DWP proposes to rollout the Universal Credit system in my constituency over Christmas, the toughest financial time for residents.

My question for the Prime Minister is this. Is the rollout a matter of gross incompetence or calculated cruelty?”

– LAURA PIDCOCK, NORTH WEST DURHAM MP

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Thousands of pensioners and working-age families at risk of losing their homes in a controversial benefits overhaul

The Government is scrapping its Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme and replacing it with a loan from next April 2018. The move could be a massive blow to thousands of low-income pensioners.

Thousands of pensioners and working-age families are at risk of losing their homes as part of a controversial benefits overhaul.

The Government has announced plans to scrap the Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) benefit and replace it with a loan from April 2018.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been sending out letters to 135,000 households – of which 65,000 are low-income pensioners – telling them to decide whether they want to take responsibility for the loan when the benefit is scrapped.

However, insurer Royal London has slammed the move, pointing out that claimants aren’t being told what rate the new SMI Loan will charge or being given enough guidance on taking out the state-backed second mortgage.

 

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Bus pass age increase in Scotland looms nearer

NICOLA Sturgeon has refused to give a guarantee that the free bus pass will be available to all over 60s following a review.

The Scottish Government is currently looking at the provision of concessionary bus travel, which is available to everyone over 60 and other groups including disabled people.

Ms Sturgeon said the bus pass had to be sustainable and said everyone who currently has one will keep it – but she refused to say if the current age eligibility criteria will remain the same.

The First Minister was asked by Labour MSP and leadership contender Richard Leonard about the government’s plans for the free bus pass.

He asked if she would give a commitment that eligibility criteria would not change within this parliament, which lasts until 2021.

Ms Sturgeon said no decisions will be made until the consultation is complete and that the government was “asking people across Scotland for their views on how best to ensure that the bus pass is sustainable for the long term”.

She added: “Whatever the outcome, nobody’s bus pass will be taken away from them and, indeed, some people who do not currently qualify for a bus pass will do so in the future.”ead more

Nearly three million over-65s are struggling to cope with bills and everyday expenses, an Age UK report has found.

While latest government figures show 800,000 pensioners are living in ‘material deprivation’, the charity’s report has warned a worrying number can’t even afford a basic standard of living.

Last year the number of pensioners living below the poverty line rose to 1.9 million – with 945,100 retirees stating they would not be able to replace a cooker if it broke down.

Over 1.2 million added that they have no access to a car and can’t afford a taxi to get around – including to hospital appointments.

A further 286,300 revealed they routinely worry about monthly bills – and are struggling to manage a life out of the red.

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