Department for Transport
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Government consults on new funding distribution for free bus pass

A consultation on a new distribution of £223m funding for the hugely popular free bus pass that will be fairer for councils was announced by the Department for Transport yesterday.

Following the extension of the concessionary travel scheme in April 2008 to free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England, the Government provided additional funding to councils who administer the scheme, taking the total amount spent to around £1 billion every year.

However, following concerns that some councils have received too much money, whereas others not enough, the Department for Transport is re-considering how the money is distributed.

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said:

“The free bus pass is a popular policy giving 11 million older and disabled people greater freedom and independence. Around £1 billion is now spent in total on this scheme every year with over £200 million devoted to extending it to travel anywhere in England.  Ensuring this extra money is distributed fairly and to where it’s needed most is critical to  the continued success of the scheme.

“We have listened to concerns raised by some councils about the way the grant has been allocated and also assessed last year’s spending to ensure that we are getting it right. Today we are publishing a proposed revised grant distribution for 2010/11 which seeks to better match the pattern of costs being incurred.

"The changes we are proposing build on the success of the national bus concession and will not in any way affect older or disabled bus users who use the scheme. I now look forward to hearing views from authorities and hope to publish the final grant distribution early in the New Year.”

In total around 200 authorities will receive more money or will be unaffected by the revised distribution.  Overall the total amount of money allocated will remain unchanged.

The special grant funding is in addition to the amount Government provides each year for concessionary travel through the formula grant process which continues to be the route for the bulk of Government funding. The special grant brings total spending on concessionary travel to around £1 billion a year.

Notes to editors

1.      The eight week consultation period ends on 30 December. The consultation document, including breakdown by authority of the proposed revised distribution can be found at 

2.      The consultation concerns the distribution of funding for the concession and in no way affects passenger’s rights to free off-peak local bus travel throughout England. The statutory minimum concession is enshrined in Primary legislation.

3.      The concessionary travel scheme was extended in April 2008 to free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England.  The special grant is solely to cover the additional cost of this extension. Funding for the pre-existing elements of the concession continues to be provided through Formula Grant. Total spending on concessionary travel is now around £1 billion a year.

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