Welsh Government backs down on plans to increase the qualifying age for free bus passes
The Welsh Government has U-turned on its proposals to increase the qualifying age for concessionary bus passes from 60 to the State Pension Age.
The change of position was disclosed to the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales in a recent meeting with Ken Skates AM, Minister for Economy and Transport, and follows strong opposition to his original plans.
Under proposals set out by the Welsh Government earlier this year, the eligibility age for the bus pass was set to increase from 60 to State Pension Age, a change that would have affected up to 300,000 older people.
The Commissioner has consistently voiced her opposition to the proposals and called on the Welsh Government to reverse its decision, given the importance of free bus travel to so many older people throughout Wales.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots said:
“I am delighted that the Welsh Government has confirmed to me that the eligibility age for the concessionary bus pass will not be increased and will remain at 60.
I consistently expressed my opposition to the proposals, and I welcome the fact that the Welsh Government has looked again at the potential impact of changing the eligibility age and has decided not to take this forward as part of the forthcoming Public Transport (Wales) Bill.
Access to free bus travel brings many benefits for older people, supporting their health, well-being and independence, enabling them to remain connected and engaged with their communities, supporting them in their caring responsibilities and enabling them to stay in employment or access learning and training opportunities.
There is, of course, more to be done to improve transport services throughout Wales, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Welsh Government and other partners and stakeholders to ensure that older people can remain connected and quickly and easily get where they need to go.”
Janet Finch-Saunders, Shadow Minister for Older People and the Welsh Conservatives’ Older People’s Champion said:
“I am delighted that a common-sense decision has been made by the Welsh Government just before Christmas. However, it is just a shame that we have had to fight to defend the best interest of older people.
The Welsh Government’s change of heart comes after major opposition in the Senedd.
This term, I have personally challenged the Minister on the potentially negative impact of his proposals to move the age of eligibility from 60 to 65.
It could have seen reduced bus use, threaten the viability of routes, and run the risk of increasing loneliness and isolation.
Importantly, supporting bus passes made economic sense as it is estimated that every pound spent on concessionary fares delivers at least £2.87 in benefits for older people, their communities and local economies.”Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com
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