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Thousands of care leavers aged 18-25 to benefit from half-price bus and tram travel in London as new concession opens

Care leavers aged between 18 and 25 and who live in London can now apply for half price bus and tram travel, after a new travel concession opened for applications today.

Announced by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan in October 2023, the new concession will support between 15,000 - 16,000 care leavers across London aged between 18 to 25 who are now eligible to apply for the travel concession, and will directly support those who have left care once they turn 18 by allowing them to be able to travel more affordably while they transition into independent living.

The new concession is part of the Pan London Care Leavers' Compact, a common core offer of support designed with care-experienced young people and agreed by the Mayor, TfL, London boroughs and London's health services.

London's children in care can still face many obstacles and many remain particularly vulnerable once they leave care. This means fewer care leavers go onto further training or university and can face complex challenges after they leave care.  

Analysis by The Children's Society suggests that across London there are around 15,270 young people a year living in care, many of whom will often find it difficult to navigate living independently alongside having a job, undertaking training, or remaining in the education system post-18. Nationally, nearly 42 per cent of care leavers aged 19-21 were known not to be in education, employment, or training. This compares to around 11 per cent of all 19 to 21-year-olds.

Furthermore, where care leavers do remain in education or seek a job or apprenticeship, the costs of doing so can often be an extra financial burden for them. These include the costs of travel to and from work or education; clothing for interviews; specialist tools and equipment; and course fees. Care leavers also require extra support in sustaining employment, whether through expert advice and skills development; access to subsidised travel; or other job-related expenses. To support care leavers effectively, all of these support sources need to work closely together.

The new concession will sit alongside other travel concessions provided by TfL, aimed at a wide range of people from young people to older people and those seeking employment. As well as the discount, holders of the new concession will be able to benefit from the Mayor's Hopper fare, which allows unlimited bus and tram journeys within an hour for the price of a single journey. The Mayor has also frozen TfL fares until March 2025, further helping to support Londoners struggling with the cost of living and London's recovery from the pandemic.

To check eligibility during application processing, TfL will be working with London Councils via the London Innovation and Improvement Alliance (LIIA), who represent all 33 London boroughs and facilitate collaboration that benefits children and young people.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: "Leaving care can be extremely challenging or daunting for young adults who can feel unprepared for the transition to independent living. Many care leavers lack the resources needed to continue training or gain meaningful employment once leaving care, which can, in turn, lead to both financial and emotional hardship.

"That's why I'm pleased to announce that today my new care leavers travel concession has opened for applications, meaning care leavers aged between 18 and 25 who live in London can apply for half-price bus and tram travel. This will give these young people a helping hand to thrive in this next stage of their lives as we continue to build a better, fairer London for everyone."

Andy Lord, London's Transport Commissioner said: "I'm delighted that we have been able to launch this new concession, which will directly support those Londoners leaving care and help them transition into independent living in the capital. We remain keen to ensure that fares on public transport remain as affordable as possible, while ensuring that TfL can continue to run clean, green and safe services and support London's continued economic recovery. Our wide range of concessions, as well as the Hopper fare, are a big part of our inclusive transport offer that seeks to ensure everyone can get around the city and enjoy all that it has to offer."

Zhane Decembre and Louisa Foyle from the Pan London Children in Care Council at Partnership for Young London, said: "The Pan London Children in Care Council at Partnership for Young London are pleased that the Mayor and TfL have launched this new concession for all care leavers across London. This offer will massively contribute to care leavers who are on a low income as they essentially have little support. Ultimately this is the one huge step within the Pan London Compact for Care Leavers which we hope to continue to expand and create as many new offers for care leavers across London creating consistency for people and showing that they really matter.

"This initiative not only eases the financial burden on care leavers but also fosters a sense of acceptance and recognition within society. It's a positive stride towards improving their access to essential transportation services. This effort reflects a commitment to equality and social equity for all members of our community it also begins with every journey matters when you are care experienced."

Jacqui McShannon, Strategic Director Children's Services and ALDCS Strategic Lead for Care Leaving, Hammersmith and Fulham, said: "London's Directors of Children's Services share the strong commitment to an enhanced and consistent offer to support all care experienced young people across London. We are proud to be part of the pan London partnership led by care experienced young people, and to be working so effectively with the GLA,  voluntary, statutory, and business partners to deliver our joint ambition to improve the lives of all of London's cared for children and young people." 

Lizzie Takyi-Akyaa, Lead Youth Worker at Carney's Community Centre said: "The transition from childhood to adulthood is often seen as bold and exciting, but for many care leavers, it can be daunting and challenging.  As a Lead Youth Worker, I often come across care leavers who feel stuck and hopeless about their future, with the limited support from local and central government. This new concession initiative by the Mayor of London and TFL is a real acknowledgment and recognition of the complex struggles care leavers often face as they begin the next chapter of their lives. This is an opportunity to remove barriers which prevent these young adults to flourish and reach their full potential." 

Alongside this new discount the Greater London Authority (GLA) continues to support children in care and care leavers through a range of schemes. In 2018, the Mayor of London signed the GLA up to the Care Leaver Covenant, making a number of accompanying pledges around GLA activity.  The GLA are also partners on the Pan London Care Leavers' Compact, which provides a framework for developing consistency, breadth and quality in the support offered to London's care leavers. Each London borough currently has a care leaver offer, but these are individual to each area and therefore the support offered varies. By working in partnership to adopt a common core offer across London, care leavers can receive better support in terms of access to health, education, transport, housing and mentoring.  Through the London Compact, the TfL care leaver concession links with offers from health and borough partners to offer a support package that is more than the sum of its parts.  

For more information about the new concession, please visit https://tfl.gov.uk/fares/free-and-discounted-travel/18-25-care-leaver-oyster-photocard

To find out more about the Pan London Care Leavers Compact please visit: 

https://www.liia.london/priority-areas/care-leavers/

Notes to Editor

  • To find out more about how London is supporting care leavers please visit: https://www.london.gov.uk/programmes-strategies/education-and-youth/young-londoners/support-care-leavers
  • London Care leavers can apply for the new concession directly via https://photocard.tfl.gov.uk. The application process for the new 18-25 Care Leaver Bus & Tram Discount concession will also be supported by targeted communications from local councils to those eligible in, or have recently left care.
  • Care leavers wishing to apply for the concession will need to liaise with their responsible borough, who will then provide eligibility information to TfL. In line with other concessions offered by TfL, the application process will be online via the TfL website and an administration fee of £20 will apply.
  • The Care Leavers Concession also forms a key part of Equity in Motion plan, TfL's recently published customer inclusion strategy. The plan is one of a set of action plans designed to achieve the ambitions of the Mayor's Transport Strategy. It does not duplicate existing efforts but complements them by setting out a series of actions and a new approach to addressing inequality. - https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publications-and-reports/equality-and-inclusion-publications
  • The independent review of children's social care, published in May 2022, noted that the leaving care grant at the value of £2,000 offered to care leavers, used to set up a first home, has not been updated in guidance since 2013 and has failed to keep pace with inflation or match the average cost of furnishing a first home. Reducing travel costs should help to make budgeting easier for care leavers; and to improve their access to education, employment and training opportunities.
Channel website: https://tfl.gov.uk/

Original article link: https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2024/february/thousands-of-care-leavers-aged-18-25-to-benefit-from-half-price-bus-and-tram-travel-in-london-as-new-concession-opens

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