The Argus£30 million-a-year bill to Sussex taxpayers for bus passes (From The Argus)

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£30 million-a-year bill to Sussex taxpayers for bus passes

The Argus: In Brighton and Hove alone there are more than ten million journeys by people entitled to free bus passes In Brighton and Hove alone there are more than ten million journeys by people entitled to free bus passes

Free bus passes are costing taxpayers nearly £30 million a year – and the bill is set to continue to rise.

Despite all public budgets being squeezed, local authorities across Sussex are forced by national law to pay for millions of journeys on public transport in their areas.

But with the cost continuing to rise due to fuel costs and an increasingly older population, some have suggested that changes to the concessionary bus fare scheme are needed.

Yet Government ministers have said there are no plans to alter the current system until at least 2015, despite austerity biting hard.

The scheme was launched in its current form in 2008, and allows free bus travel for retired or disabled people.

In Brighton and Hove alone there are more than ten million journeys by people entitled to free bus passes.

This is forecast to cost the local authority £9.8 million in the current financial year – up from £9.6 million in 2011/12.

East Sussex County Council is on course to spend £7.7 million in 2012/13, up from £7.4million in 2011/12.

West Sussex County Council has allocated £10.5 million for this year, an increase of three per cent on £10.2 million in 2011/12.

Worthing West MP Peter Bottomley said he was worried about the cost of bureaucracy in limiting bus passes to pensioners.

Fixed deals

He added: “This is not something that we introduced; it’s something we inherited from the previous Government.

“It’s very hard to take away something that people have got used to.

“But we could say that future generations have to be older before they are entitled to it.”

A city council spokeswoman said it had negotiated fixed deals with both the main bus operators in the city - Brighton and Hove Buses and Stagecoach South - which covered more than 98 per cent of the total cost for the period up to March 31, 2014.

She added: “Free bus travel remains extremely popular with eligible residents and Brighton and Hove is an extremely popular destination for eligible residents in neighbouring areas.

Ticket prices

“The number of concessionary journeys therefore continues to rise and costs are increasing, particularly due to fuel prices, so reimbursement costs will continue to rise unless the law is changed.

“With the current fixed deals in place, a reduction in the number of journeys will not reduce cost.”

A West Sussex spokesman said: “Generally bus ticket prices have gone up four to five per cent across the county, which means that costs associated with the scheme are rising more slowly than general fares.

“The overwhelming majority of the 24 million bus journeys made in West Sussex have always been made on commercially viable routes, and are not funded by the county council.”

Who is eligible?

Eligible older and disabled people can apply for a bus pass to get free off-peak travel on local bus services across England.

It applies to those aged 60 on or before April 5, 2010, and of ‘pensionable age’ from April 6, 2010.

'Off-peak' is between 9.30am and 11pm Monday to Friday and all day at weekends and on public holidays.

However, Brighton and Hove City Council provides £50,000 a year to which supports free travel between 9am and 9.30am and 11pm and 4am.

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2:06pm Mon 7 Jan 13

lordenglandofsussex says...

I'd rather see £30 million spent giving OAP's (those on low income but not the wealthy) free bus passes to allow them to get out and about than see £1 Billion given away on overseas aid and another £1 Billion wasted on the EU.
I'd rather see £30 million spent giving OAP's (those on low income but not the wealthy) free bus passes to allow them to get out and about than see £1 Billion given away on overseas aid and another £1 Billion wasted on the EU. lordenglandofsussex
  • Score: 0

2:14pm Mon 7 Jan 13

bug eye says...

money well spent, and it is not just for oaps who get free bus passes, but should actually be for everyone. old people would be stuck at home not socialising or exercising costing us the same if not more. and the rich ones I know still choose to use the car. the problem is the high bus fares in the city, despite a higher rate of bus use and eco friendly buses as we are told, the fares are still going up, how can this be, oh yeah rip off brightain. if free bus passes were rolled out for all then we would see a real drop in car use and crime as people would get out more and stop watching brainwash tv, this should be trialled.
money well spent, and it is not just for oaps who get free bus passes, but should actually be for everyone. old people would be stuck at home not socialising or exercising costing us the same if not more. and the rich ones I know still choose to use the car. the problem is the high bus fares in the city, despite a higher rate of bus use and eco friendly buses as we are told, the fares are still going up, how can this be, oh yeah rip off brightain. if free bus passes were rolled out for all then we would see a real drop in car use and crime as people would get out more and stop watching brainwash tv, this should be trialled. bug eye
  • Score: 0

2:17pm Mon 7 Jan 13

russellsnr2 says...

OK I no it's the panto season but look behind you and see who paid into the system all there working lives to be able to reap the benefits when they retired, it certainly was not local government so the statement above , Quote:- "Local authorities across Sussex are forced by national law to pay for millions of journeys on public transport in their areas." is incorrect as these local authorities get there money from where? Oh yes Government and who paid it in to the Government?
So stop trying to make excuses for Local authorities who could probably save a fortune by cutting down on the dinner parties that only local authority bosses attend and I bet if someone not connected to the local government walked into there offices they could make many more cuts within.
OK I no it's the panto season but look behind you and see who paid into the system all there working lives to be able to reap the benefits when they retired, it certainly was not local government so the statement above , Quote:- "Local authorities across Sussex are forced by national law to pay for millions of journeys on public transport in their areas." is incorrect as these local authorities get there money from where? Oh yes Government and who paid it in to the Government? So stop trying to make excuses for Local authorities who could probably save a fortune by cutting down on the dinner parties that only local authority bosses attend and I bet if someone not connected to the local government walked into there offices they could make many more cuts within. russellsnr2
  • Score: 0

2:31pm Mon 7 Jan 13

kkj says...

bug eye wrote:
money well spent, and it is not just for oaps who get free bus passes, but should actually be for everyone. old people would be stuck at home not socialising or exercising costing us the same if not more. and the rich ones I know still choose to use the car. the problem is the high bus fares in the city, despite a higher rate of bus use and eco friendly buses as we are told, the fares are still going up, how can this be, oh yeah rip off brightain. if free bus passes were rolled out for all then we would see a real drop in car use and crime as people would get out more and stop watching brainwash tv, this should be trialled.
I agree it would be nice if everyone had free bus travel, but the problem is its not free.

The local taxpayers are paying for it.
[quote][p][bold]bug eye[/bold] wrote: money well spent, and it is not just for oaps who get free bus passes, but should actually be for everyone. old people would be stuck at home not socialising or exercising costing us the same if not more. and the rich ones I know still choose to use the car. the problem is the high bus fares in the city, despite a higher rate of bus use and eco friendly buses as we are told, the fares are still going up, how can this be, oh yeah rip off brightain. if free bus passes were rolled out for all then we would see a real drop in car use and crime as people would get out more and stop watching brainwash tv, this should be trialled.[/p][/quote]I agree it would be nice if everyone had free bus travel, but the problem is its not free. The local taxpayers are paying for it. kkj
  • Score: 0

2:42pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit says...

I've got four and a half years to go before I qualify, so don't anybody DARE cancel it. I've been looking forward to my free bus pass since I was 35
I've got four and a half years to go before I qualify, so don't anybody DARE cancel it. I've been looking forward to my free bus pass since I was 35 Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit
  • Score: 0

2:44pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Sussex jim says...

lordenglandofsussex wrote:
I'd rather see £30 million spent giving OAP's (those on low income but not the wealthy) free bus passes to allow them to get out and about than see £1 Billion given away on overseas aid and another £1 Billion wasted on the EU.
Why should we send £1Billion to support children in other countries who have been sired by men who knew at conception that they would be unable to support them? And those that grow to adulthood will probably try to invade Europe as refugees-usually via the poorer member countries that we already subsidise?
Charity begins at home. Help those who fought for freedom in WW2 and built us back up in the fifties- and those whose children have lost their sense of responsibility in caring for them
[quote][p][bold]lordenglandofsussex[/bold] wrote: I'd rather see £30 million spent giving OAP's (those on low income but not the wealthy) free bus passes to allow them to get out and about than see £1 Billion given away on overseas aid and another £1 Billion wasted on the EU.[/p][/quote]Why should we send £1Billion to support children in other countries who have been sired by men who knew at conception that they would be unable to support them? And those that grow to adulthood will probably try to invade Europe as refugees-usually via the poorer member countries that we already subsidise? Charity begins at home. Help those who fought for freedom in WW2 and built us back up in the fifties- and those whose children have lost their sense of responsibility in caring for them Sussex jim
  • Score: 0

2:50pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Seaguller says...

They could cut the costs of that if was just oap people but it seems to be anyone now who has a problem, not to sound nasty but most are people who are just overweight,can't see any other problems with them.somtimes i thought they must be given them out in a box of cornflakes because every Tom dick and Harry have one now...
They could cut the costs of that if was just oap people but it seems to be anyone now who has a problem, not to sound nasty but most are people who are just overweight,can't see any other problems with them.somtimes i thought they must be given them out in a box of cornflakes because every Tom dick and Harry have one now... Seaguller
  • Score: 0

2:50pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Seaguller says...

They could cut the costs of that if was just oap people but it seems to be anyone now who has a problem, not to sound nasty but most are people who are just overweight,can't see any other problems with them.somtimes i thought they must be given them out in a box of cornflakes because every Tom dick and Harry have one now...
They could cut the costs of that if was just oap people but it seems to be anyone now who has a problem, not to sound nasty but most are people who are just overweight,can't see any other problems with them.somtimes i thought they must be given them out in a box of cornflakes because every Tom dick and Harry have one now... Seaguller
  • Score: 0

2:54pm Mon 7 Jan 13

pjwilk says...

Good to help old people who would otherwise never get out of their houses.And it stoppes councillers wasting it on themselves with high pay and expenses for doing very little for us.
Good to help old people who would otherwise never get out of their houses.And it stoppes councillers wasting it on themselves with high pay and expenses for doing very little for us. pjwilk
  • Score: 0

2:56pm Mon 7 Jan 13

greenpaws says...

If the Tories were really into Localism local councils would be allowed to run the local buses and save the cost of paying dividends to shareholders.

It's daft an irrelevant commissioner in Eastbourne and private companies make decisions about transport leaving councils to pick up the bill for what they won't do.

If it was down to local councils, we could get off oil much quicker and save the fuel costs and high taxes too!
If the Tories were really into Localism local councils would be allowed to run the local buses and save the cost of paying dividends to shareholders. It's daft an irrelevant commissioner in Eastbourne and private companies make decisions about transport leaving councils to pick up the bill for what they won't do. If it was down to local councils, we could get off oil much quicker and save the fuel costs and high taxes too! greenpaws
  • Score: 0

3:14pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Sudseax says...

Some of these free bus journeys would otherwise be made by car. Those who would save money by taking away the concession will land everyone with the costs of more congestion and worse air quality. That's the way of this government - take spending off the public accounts and pass the costs on to individuals.
A lot of these free journeys probably would not be made at all if they weren't free, so presumably the whole scheme has been a huge and very profitable windfall for the bus companies.
Rather than take away the concession and loose all the knock-on economic and environmental benefits, renegotiate the terms with the bus companies. Find a way to expand free bus travel (as some cities in the UK have done - with free shuttle buses around town and city centres.)
Some of these free bus journeys would otherwise be made by car. Those who would save money by taking away the concession will land everyone with the costs of more congestion and worse air quality. That's the way of this government - take spending off the public accounts and pass the costs on to individuals. A lot of these free journeys probably would not be made at all if they weren't free, so presumably the whole scheme has been a huge and very profitable windfall for the bus companies. Rather than take away the concession and loose all the knock-on economic and environmental benefits, renegotiate the terms with the bus companies. Find a way to expand free bus travel (as some cities in the UK have done - with free shuttle buses around town and city centres.) Sudseax
  • Score: 0

4:01pm Mon 7 Jan 13

ruberducker says...

and who is paying for the bus at a cost of several thousand pounds for the council staff going from hove town hall--to kings house.....max 10min walk?
and who is paying for the bus at a cost of several thousand pounds for the council staff going from hove town hall--to kings house.....max 10min walk? ruberducker
  • Score: 0

4:03pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Fairfax Sakes says...

typically Political decisions will continue to be heavily weighted towards policies favouring the older voter as they are the ones who exert the democratic clout. That’s called Realpolitik. Of course this can only be sustained in the medium term, (maybe another 10 years), until the ageing population makes the spending untenable in line with national debt levels. By this time other services such as investment and education will have been squeezed to levels that will damage the nation’s future wellbeing in a deeper way. The elderly understandably wish to maintain a certain quality of life…unfortunately it is based on economics of a different demographic age. The “I paid tax all my life” argument doesn’t cut it I’m afraid…to finance a comparable standard of life for 20+ years of retirement, you’d have to have saved around 40% of your income for over 40 years!
typically Political decisions will continue to be heavily weighted towards policies favouring the older voter as they are the ones who exert the democratic clout. That’s called Realpolitik. Of course this can only be sustained in the medium term, (maybe another 10 years), until the ageing population makes the spending untenable in line with national debt levels. By this time other services such as investment and education will have been squeezed to levels that will damage the nation’s future wellbeing in a deeper way. The elderly understandably wish to maintain a certain quality of life…unfortunately it is based on economics of a different demographic age. The “I paid tax all my life” argument doesn’t cut it I’m afraid…to finance a comparable standard of life for 20+ years of retirement, you’d have to have saved around 40% of your income for over 40 years! Fairfax Sakes
  • Score: 0

4:24pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Sussex jim says...

A lot of people have paid something like 40% of their income for 40 years, into a scheme known as a mortgage. This means that on retirement they probably own a family house outright.
They can then retire into a smaller and cheaper home, and have spare cash to fund their retirement.
Why should they subsidise the feckless who have never bothered to make it in life?
A lot of people have paid something like 40% of their income for 40 years, into a scheme known as a mortgage. This means that on retirement they probably own a family house outright. They can then retire into a smaller and cheaper home, and have spare cash to fund their retirement. Why should they subsidise the feckless who have never bothered to make it in life? Sussex jim
  • Score: 0

4:39pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Angryoldman says...

lordenglandofsussex wrote:
I'd rather see £30 million spent giving OAP's (those on low income but not the wealthy) free bus passes to allow them to get out and about than see £1 Billion given away on overseas aid and another £1 Billion wasted on the EU.
The foreign aid budget was £7billion at the last election and will be rising to £12billion by the next election – costing each household more than £300 a year.
[quote][p][bold]lordenglandofsussex[/bold] wrote: I'd rather see £30 million spent giving OAP's (those on low income but not the wealthy) free bus passes to allow them to get out and about than see £1 Billion given away on overseas aid and another £1 Billion wasted on the EU.[/p][/quote]The foreign aid budget was £7billion at the last election and will be rising to £12billion by the next election – costing each household more than £300 a year. Angryoldman
  • Score: 0

4:50pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Hoarder12345444 says...

Well if you've paid all your taxes for 40 odd years, you deserve it. Lots of older people live in Sussex, but they deserve it to get about. My Old man has one, but he never uses it anyway, and I'm not sure that many others do, they have their own cars!!
Well if you've paid all your taxes for 40 odd years, you deserve it. Lots of older people live in Sussex, but they deserve it to get about. My Old man has one, but he never uses it anyway, and I'm not sure that many others do, they have their own cars!! Hoarder12345444
  • Score: 0

5:27pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Angryoldman says...

Free bus passes and winter fuel allowance should be linked to pension credit thus providing for those who need it and not those who are rolling in it.
Free bus passes and winter fuel allowance should be linked to pension credit thus providing for those who need it and not those who are rolling in it. Angryoldman
  • Score: 0

9:48pm Mon 7 Jan 13

mustaphaLeeko says...

Angryoldman wrote:
Free bus passes and winter fuel allowance should be linked to pension credit thus providing for those who need it and not those who are rolling in it.
Unfortuantely that is NOT a good idea, the facts are that upto 1.58 million pensioners despite being eligble DON'T CLAIM pension credit.

However the free bus pass being age related is given to all automatically without pensioners having to prove how poor they are.

I'd rather it stays as it is, and they cut some of the expense paying for layabouts and people who have more kids to get more benefits!


source: dwp website

"Pension Credit - Take-up in 2009-10 was between 62 per cent and 68 per cent by caseload and between 73 per cent and 80 per cent by expenditure. There was no conclusive evidence of a change in caseload take-up between 2008-09 and 2009-10.

In 2009-10 there were 2.62 million pensioners claiming £7.64 billion of Pension Credit. The number of pensioners that were estimated to be entitled but not claiming Pension Credit was between 1.21 million and 1.58 million. The total amount of Pension Credit unclaimed was between £1.94 billion and £2.80 billion.
"
[quote][p][bold]Angryoldman[/bold] wrote: Free bus passes and winter fuel allowance should be linked to pension credit thus providing for those who need it and not those who are rolling in it.[/p][/quote]Unfortuantely that is NOT a good idea, the facts are that upto 1.58 million pensioners despite being eligble DON'T CLAIM pension credit. However the free bus pass being age related is given to all automatically without pensioners having to prove how poor they are. I'd rather it stays as it is, and they cut some of the expense paying for layabouts and people who have more kids to get more benefits! source: dwp website "Pension Credit - Take-up in 2009-10 was between 62 per cent and 68 per cent by caseload and between 73 per cent and 80 per cent by expenditure. There was no conclusive evidence of a change in caseload take-up between 2008-09 and 2009-10. In 2009-10 there were 2.62 million pensioners claiming £7.64 billion of Pension Credit. The number of pensioners that were estimated to be entitled but not claiming Pension Credit was between 1.21 million and 1.58 million. The total amount of Pension Credit unclaimed was between £1.94 billion and £2.80 billion. " mustaphaLeeko
  • Score: 0

7:23am Tue 8 Jan 13

Angryoldman says...

mustaphaLeeko wrote:
Angryoldman wrote:
Free bus passes and winter fuel allowance should be linked to pension credit thus providing for those who need it and not those who are rolling in it.
Unfortuantely that is NOT a good idea, the facts are that upto 1.58 million pensioners despite being eligble DON'T CLAIM pension credit.

However the free bus pass being age related is given to all automatically without pensioners having to prove how poor they are.

I'd rather it stays as it is, and they cut some of the expense paying for layabouts and people who have more kids to get more benefits!


source: dwp website

"Pension Credit - Take-up in 2009-10 was between 62 per cent and 68 per cent by caseload and between 73 per cent and 80 per cent by expenditure. There was no conclusive evidence of a change in caseload take-up between 2008-09 and 2009-10.

In 2009-10 there were 2.62 million pensioners claiming £7.64 billion of Pension Credit. The number of pensioners that were estimated to be entitled but not claiming Pension Credit was between 1.21 million and 1.58 million. The total amount of Pension Credit unclaimed was between £1.94 billion and £2.80 billion.
"
They have a choice. If they’re too proud or stupid to claim it then that's their fault.
Your argument is flawed.
The ConDems are already discussing linking Fuel allowance to pension credit.
If you want the benefits then claim them. If you don't claim them then don't moan if when you don't get them.
I won't be returning to your cut and paste reply. Your argument is lost!
[quote][p][bold]mustaphaLeeko[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Angryoldman[/bold] wrote: Free bus passes and winter fuel allowance should be linked to pension credit thus providing for those who need it and not those who are rolling in it.[/p][/quote]Unfortuantely that is NOT a good idea, the facts are that upto 1.58 million pensioners despite being eligble DON'T CLAIM pension credit. However the free bus pass being age related is given to all automatically without pensioners having to prove how poor they are. I'd rather it stays as it is, and they cut some of the expense paying for layabouts and people who have more kids to get more benefits! source: dwp website "Pension Credit - Take-up in 2009-10 was between 62 per cent and 68 per cent by caseload and between 73 per cent and 80 per cent by expenditure. There was no conclusive evidence of a change in caseload take-up between 2008-09 and 2009-10. In 2009-10 there were 2.62 million pensioners claiming £7.64 billion of Pension Credit. The number of pensioners that were estimated to be entitled but not claiming Pension Credit was between 1.21 million and 1.58 million. The total amount of Pension Credit unclaimed was between £1.94 billion and £2.80 billion. "[/p][/quote]They have a choice. If they’re too proud or stupid to claim it then that's their fault. Your argument is flawed. The ConDems are already discussing linking Fuel allowance to pension credit. If you want the benefits then claim them. If you don't claim them then don't moan if when you don't get them. I won't be returning to your cut and paste reply. Your argument is lost! Angryoldman
  • Score: 0

8:47am Tue 8 Jan 13

Morpheus says...

The government pays for this scheme so why are local councils complaining so much about having to fund it?
The government pays for this scheme so why are local councils complaining so much about having to fund it? Morpheus
  • Score: 0

10:16am Tue 8 Jan 13

MrOrganist says...

Two points. Sussex councils do get money from central Government for concessionary travel but it is not directly related to what they spend. This is to give them an incentive to pay as little to bus companies as possible. They can also achieve a double saving by cutting tendered bus services because they no longer have to pay for free rides on buses that aren't there.

Everyone knows that people ride more when they don't have to pay, so the compensation that councils pay the bus companies is not the same as paying passengers would pay for the same trip. It is discounted by about 50%.
Two points. Sussex councils do get money from central Government for concessionary travel but it is not directly related to what they spend. This is to give them an incentive to pay as little to bus companies as possible. They can also achieve a double saving by cutting tendered bus services because they no longer have to pay for free rides on buses that aren't there. Everyone knows that people ride more when they don't have to pay, so the compensation that councils pay the bus companies is not the same as paying passengers would pay for the same trip. It is discounted by about 50%. MrOrganist
  • Score: 0

8:26pm Sat 12 Jan 13

remluf says...

A lot of them waste public money by only going one stop when they could walk, and would walk if they had to pay.
A lot of them waste public money by only going one stop when they could walk, and would walk if they had to pay. remluf
  • Score: 0

8:29pm Sat 12 Jan 13

remluf says...

bug eye wrote:
money well spent, and it is not just for oaps who get free bus passes, but should actually be for everyone. old people would be stuck at home not socialising or exercising costing us the same if not more. and the rich ones I know still choose to use the car. the problem is the high bus fares in the city, despite a higher rate of bus use and eco friendly buses as we are told, the fares are still going up, how can this be, oh yeah rip off brightain. if free bus passes were rolled out for all then we would see a real drop in car use and crime as people would get out more and stop watching brainwash tv, this should be trialled.
Why do you say the bus fares in Brighton are high? Are you mad? Have a look at the prices in Worthing. You should be grateful to have such cheap bus fares.
[quote][p][bold]bug eye[/bold] wrote: money well spent, and it is not just for oaps who get free bus passes, but should actually be for everyone. old people would be stuck at home not socialising or exercising costing us the same if not more. and the rich ones I know still choose to use the car. the problem is the high bus fares in the city, despite a higher rate of bus use and eco friendly buses as we are told, the fares are still going up, how can this be, oh yeah rip off brightain. if free bus passes were rolled out for all then we would see a real drop in car use and crime as people would get out more and stop watching brainwash tv, this should be trialled.[/p][/quote]Why do you say the bus fares in Brighton are high? Are you mad? Have a look at the prices in Worthing. You should be grateful to have such cheap bus fares. remluf
  • Score: 0

8:33pm Sat 12 Jan 13

remluf says...

ruberducker wrote:
and who is paying for the bus at a cost of several thousand pounds for the council staff going from hove town hall--to kings house.....max 10min walk?
That bus does not exist.
[quote][p][bold]ruberducker[/bold] wrote: and who is paying for the bus at a cost of several thousand pounds for the council staff going from hove town hall--to kings house.....max 10min walk?[/p][/quote]That bus does not exist. remluf
  • Score: 0

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