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Proposed cuts to concessionary travel “perverse”

Published 17 November 2017 by Colin Howden

Transform Scotland have responded to the Scottish Government’s ‘Consultation on Free Bus Travel for Older and Disabled People and Modern Apprentices’.

Transform Scotland director Colin Howden said:

“Whilst it is understandable that government wishes to contain future costs, the proposed approach is at the expense of some of the less well-off people in society. This is particularly strange as the scheme is excellent value for money with each £1 spent producing £2.87 in benefits. Whilst half of these benefits accrue to concessionary travellers, around 20% goes to other bus passengers and road users, and to the wider country from economic and social impacts, particularly in health and well-being.

“It certainly seems perverse to be looking for revenue savings here whilst at the same time the Government proposes to abolish Air Passenger Duty. Bus travel often benefits the least well-off and produces environmental benefits, whilst air travel benefits the better off and is to the detriment of the environment.

“In 2006-07, the National Concessionary Travel Scheme cost £163m . This rose to a cost of £192m in 2016-17. Should this trend continue as observed over the next decade then the scheme might be expected to cost c. £221m by the end of a further decade (2026-27). The cumulative cost of this would indeed be substantial (perhaps c. £150m over 10 years) over this period. However, this figure is less than half of the intended £300m annual tax cut that the Government proposes to provide to air travellers in any one year through the abolition of Air Passenger Duty (a cumulative value of up to £3,000m over 10 years). If the Government can afford to cut tax for air travellers then there seems to us no good reason why a cut to concessions for bus travellers is necessary.”