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Travel passes, TV licences etc - is this fair?

(58 Posts)
LaraGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 04-Dec-19 09:45:55

A report out today suggests that phasing out a transport pass for Londoners aged 60-65 should be considered because those eligible are often richer than younger people.
The Centre for London also called for TfL to scrap the 60+ Oyster card and the additional nominee pass for TfL employees.
What do you think? Should these benefits all be means tested?
What about the other benefits that apply to over 60s?
We've been asked to talk about this on Sky News today and would love to have your views.

Persistentdonor Wed 04-Dec-19 09:48:00

It might be reasonable to change the minimum age to 65 perhaps?

Hetty58 Wed 04-Dec-19 09:53:30

I think anything that encourages people to use public transport, rather than drive, should be considered a priority in London now. We have traffic congestion, parking problems and terrible air pollution, after all!

Jabberwok Wed 04-Dec-19 09:55:36

Or even 70. 60 these days is too young for any freebies.

Hetty58 Wed 04-Dec-19 09:57:12

Means testing is very expensive, involves a lot of admin, fraud checking and updating. It's more cost-efficient, overall, to just make these benefits universal. When I use a bus or train, there are always plenty of empty seats anyway - so I'm not really 'costing' much at all!

FlexibleFriend Wed 04-Dec-19 10:01:01

I'm a Londoner aged 65 I have no free travel pass and think they should fall in line with pension age. So when you get your pension you become eligible for free travel and not before.

Calendargirl Wed 04-Dec-19 10:05:57

Agree FlexibleFriend

Bus passes are linked to state pension age in other parts of the country, why not the same in London?

Moocow Wed 04-Dec-19 10:06:28

I second what hetty said but not just for London. London is only highlighted because it's the capital, everywhere else gets a snippet of publicity or totally forgotten. So many would like to be able to use public transport but the timings and links just do not work for the greater majority- I speak from personal experiences over many instances and many many years.

Gonegirl Wed 04-Dec-19 10:07:14

Not all Londoners are going to be richer than younger people. Far from it. Means testing is apparently too expensive to do.

I think free travel passes (and other extra benefits) should be for for over 65s. (Especially in London where you take your life in your hands if you try to walk anywhere). And bike riding is definitely out.

Riverwalk Wed 04-Dec-19 10:15:07

Flexible Friend did you deliberately not claim your travel pass on principle?

Riverwalk Wed 04-Dec-19 10:19:48

It's a silly argument that

because those eligible are often richer than younger people.

Often they're not.

There are certain benefits/perks that come with age and they should continue; just as parents, quite rightly, are given certain benefits/perks for their children.

HootyMcOwlface Wed 04-Dec-19 10:22:40

They are linked to pension age here inLincolnshire, I can’t have a bus pass till I’m 66 (or is it 67, not sure!). Transport here is infrequent, often unreliable and expensive - unless you live within the city boundary of Lincoln, which I don’t. So I have no alternative but to drive.

TerriBull Wed 04-Dec-19 10:34:56

I have a Freedom pass I'm 65, before that I had an Oyster card, I think from age 60. which cost £10 for unlimited travel in London. It is very expensive to travel about the capital, as lovely as it is to have this benefit, I think maybe it's over generous and if for that reason it was withdrawn, I would understand why. Our children have to pay an enormous amount to commute into London, too much really, particularly on SouthWest who what with the current strikes are delivering any abysmal service. My heart goes out to all those who are having to endure an awful journey into work.

crystaltipps Wed 04-Dec-19 10:49:12

If you really want to cut down on private car use in the capital surely anything that encourages public transport use, particularly in off peak times should be encouraged. I know plenty of older people who would definitely get in their cars if they had no freedom pass. Public transport should be made cheaper for everyone. Don’t the under 18s get free travel in London? I see whole groups of kids waiting for busses to go one stop.

LaraGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 04-Dec-19 11:05:42

What about the winter fuel payment - should this also be means tested?

jaylucy Wed 04-Dec-19 11:08:09

Like others I don't get a bus pass until I am 66.
I was pretty annoyed when I found that out as I thought it was about the only thing that was worth looking forward to when I reached 60!
I don't drive, so have to use public transport. I have been catching the bus into the nearest town since I was 11 and I went to grammer school - in that time, I reckon I have spent enough money on bus fares to nearly buy my own bus (or at least half of one)
The assumption that many over 60s are richer than younger people is so wrong - fair enough if you have always worked in a professional position, you may well be - but what about those that have worked for many years in retail, hospitality etc ? They have often been on,or even below minimum wage.
Having watched a programme recently about fare dodgers in London , it would make as much sense for them to be able to tighten up the technology that makes it nearly impossible to use another person's pass, only pay for part of their journey (one man had been doing that for several years!) or not paying at all, rather than taking something away that encourages people to use public transport.

Liz46 Wed 04-Dec-19 11:11:27

I don't use it frequently but I love my travel pass. I live on The Wirral so can travel on Merseyrail to Chester, Liverpool or Southport free of charge.

Jabberwok Wed 04-Dec-19 11:35:40

Yes, pension age would be sensible for all benefits - maybe!? Winter fuel could be taxable then those in real need would get the full benefit and others would get according to their tax bracket?

growstuff Wed 04-Dec-19 11:49:41

I used to support that idea too Jabberwok. Then I realised that everybody with a tax income just above the threshold to those with much higher incomes (sorry, can't remember the thresholds atm) would end up losing 20%.

I would prefer all benefits for pensioners and working age people to be increased and top ups such as winter fuel allowance, bus passes, TV licences to be abolished and the total amount to be taxed.

trisher Wed 04-Dec-19 11:57:44

I think if public transport was reasonably priced then no-one would need a bus pass, more people would use it which would be better for the planet and our cities. I'd like to see a proper programme of public investment to develop a joined up transport system which would provide such an efficient and user-friendly service that it would be seen as better than using a car.

Doodledog Wed 04-Dec-19 12:01:43

Like Jaylucy I live in the regions, so I don't have a travel pass, and have relied on public transport all my life.

I think it should be free for over 60s, regardless of income, as the more people who use public transport the more likely it is to survive cuts, and as has been said, reducing the number of cars on the road can only be a good thing. If buses are running anyway, it's not as though letting over 60s on free is going to cost much, but it could make a lot of difference to people's lives.

I was lucky enough to be able to leave work before state pension age, but that doesn't mean I am well off - in fact I am living off savings, and will have to do so for over 6 years. I had budgeted for living expenses, but hadn't really taken account of the things that used to be free or concessionary for over 60s that we now have to wait for until we are 66 or 67. A bus pass would make all the difference, as a ticket to my nearest town costs £8, and I have to go there at least twice a week.

I also think that there should be a nationwide approach to concessionary travel. We all pay the same taxes, so it seems unfair that there is a postcode lottery when it comes to travel passes.

Finally, I also think that discussions like these (not particularly on here, but in general) are a way of softening people up for a means-tested pension benefit, which would, IMO, be massively unjust, as so many people paid into an occupational or private pension believing that it would top up their state pension.

MaizieD Wed 04-Dec-19 12:06:49

I think that's a good suggestion, Jabberwok. Taxing the fuel allowance would be much simpler than means testing.

As for the bus passes, taxing them would be difficult as not all people take advantage of them, unless a blanket assumption was made that all pensioners have a pass and we were all taxed on an assumed value for them.

On the other hand, it's worth remembering that these benefits all put money into the real economy and will be taxed away in one way or another eventually.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the bus companies paid by the local authorities for the 'free transport' given to pensioners? So the money not only pays the company for costs and wages (which get spent in the economy) but helps to keep bus services running?

I too am puzzled by the assumption that most pensioners are wealthy. Many may be 'wealthy' on paper but a lot of our wealth is in our property, not available for immediate use. Are we expected to sell our homes to pay for our transport? It's a moot point.

Charleygirl5 Wed 04-Dec-19 12:27:01

MaizieD I agree, TFL and others may well find that there will be loss of services and many redundancies if the Oyster card etc are removed.

If winter fuel allowance, TV licences and transport passes are going to be tinkered with the Government is going to have to raise the state pension considerably.

I live in London and to get to my local hospital 2 miles away I need two buses. Car parking almost needs a mortgage to pay for it so it would almost be as cheap to go by minicab if bus fares had to be paid.

My "wealth" is in my house- I have not noticed it in the bank.

Jabberwok Wed 04-Dec-19 12:29:54

I can see what you mean growstuff as it could send a recipient
over the tax limit ! Maybe a recipient would be able to refuse the payment if this was the case?! There must be a way!!

glammanana Wed 04-Dec-19 12:31:52

I was lucky enough to get my travel pass when I was 60,I am like Liz46 and live on The Wirral so can travel to Chester,Southport and use The Ferry or bus to Liverpool the service we get is very good and on the day of my 60th birthday I just couldn't wait to get out and have my free travel.