Warning that change could de-stabilise the scheme in Britain’s largest cities
In their response to the consultation on the administration of the national concessionary fares scheme, the largest transport authorities outside London have called on the Government to retain the ‘special grant’ that ITAs have used to successfully administer and support the scheme so far.
As part of their wider proposals to streamline the administration of the scheme the DfT is intending to remove the special grant from ITAs and re-channel the funding to District Councils.
Chair of the group of six ITAs, Cllr Gary Clarke, said:
‘We believe that the Government should continue to directly fund transport authorities like ITAs for a scheme which the ITAs administer and pay for. Indeed, the Special Grant has been essential in making this scheme work effectively for hundreds of thousands of older and disabled people in the city regions. To redistribute this grant will cause major uncertainties for ITA budgets as well as risking de-stabilising the effective way in which we have managed the concessionary fares scheme so far. Not only that but it will also create a new set of winners and losers within District Councils.’
Cllr Clarke added:
‘If this aspect of the system ain’t broke - why fix it? Especially when - for the sake of bureaucratic convention in Whitehall - the consequences of removing the special grant could be cuts to other essential ITA services, such as concessions for younger people and socially necessary bus services.’
Other key features of the pteg response to the consultation on the administration of concessionary fares are:
- that the administrative arrangements shouldn’t be looked at in isolation from the funding that will be required to maintain the scheme (especially with demand rising faster than the Government’s projected future funding)
- that the scheme should continue to be nationally funded, but locally administered (so that local transport authorities like PTEs are free to buy-in additional local benefits – like concessions on trams and trains – that are not part of the mandatory national scheme)
For more contact Jonathan Bray on 0781 804 1485 / 0113 251 7445