Charges for pensioner bus passes abolished

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The Independent Online

The government was warned yesterday that a £50m scheme to give millions of elderly people cheap bus fares did not make up for the lack of a "decent" pension.

The government was warned yesterday that a £50m scheme to give millions of elderly people cheap bus fares did not make up for the lack of a "decent" pension.

Reacting to the announcement of new fare concessions by the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, pensioners leaders said they would have preferred to hear they were about to receive a pension increase.

Under the plan, women over 60, men over 65 and disabled people throughout England and Wales will pay no more than half-price for bus rides.

Most local authorities operate a concessionary fares system, but some charge up to £43 for an annual pass. Now the Government is to abolish charges for concessionary cards so that they are free. The scheme will come into force in April 2001.

Jack Thane, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, said his members wanted a bigger basic state pension. "A lot of pensioners do not use buses; they are old and infirm, they are caught in their homes, they require the money to help them live a better life."

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