§ Mr. McNulty
The Government provides funding for off peak concessionary travel for all pensioners (women over 60, men over 65) through the annual grant settlement to local authorities. This funding also includes concessions for off-peak travel for men aged 60–64 and for disabled people. Local authorities must provide at least half fare concessions on local bus services with no charge for the pass and are free to offer alternative and more generous schemes. Local authorities in England spent around £500 million on concessionary travel in 2002–03. This figure takes account of the extra £54 million we provided to local authorities in 2001–02 to cover the costs of implementing the statutory half fare minimum requirement. We provided a further £50 million in 2003–04 to cover the additional cost of extending concessionary travel to men aged 60–64.
From 1 May 2003, half-fares have been made available on many scheduled long-distance coach services for people aged 60 years and over and for disabled people. We are providing an extra £10 million per year to operators to fund the scheme.