Children & Families Cabinet Member – Minutes – 24 November 2020

13 CONCESSIONARY FARES 2021/22 – PUBLICATION OF DRAFT SCHEME – The Deputy Chief Executive and Director: Commercial submitted a report seeking approval of a Draft Scheme for concessionary fares reimbursement.

The council, as a Travel Concession Authority, had a duty to provide free travel for older people and people with disabilities between 9.30am and 11.00pm, Monday to Friday and all day at weekends and bank holidays. This was part of the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS). Bus operators were reimbursed for concessionary passengers that travelled on local registered bus services boarding within North Lincolnshire.

With effect from 2017/18, the council moved to a voluntary capped fund arrangement with bus operators. The Department for Transport’s (DfT) reimbursement calculator was used as the basis for negotiations. It was proposed to continue with this methodology. Initial analysis of concessionary travel during 2020/21 showed trip numbers had drastically decreased during 2020/21 compared with the previous year due the Covid 19 pandemic.

Smaller operators with infrequent services (e.g. once per week) and community transport providers would have simpler arrangements which was permitted in DfT guidance.

The law required passes to be issued to eligible residents. Bus operators were reimbursed for carrying concessionary passholders, on a “no better off and no worse off” basis.

The qualifying age for the elderly pass was issued in line with a woman’s retirement pension age (currently 65). This had seen a reduction in passes issued and was expected to reduce further as the state pension age for women gradually increased, reaching 66 by 2020.

The DfT had asked councils to maintain concessionary travel reimbursement payments at pre-COVID levels and operators continued to receive pre-COVID level payments, this would continue until the DFT updated the council later this year or early next year.

Resolved – (a) That the Draft Scheme for concessionary fare reimbursement, attached at Appendix 1 to the report, be approved, and (b) that consideration be given as to whether to amend any aspects of the scheme before the final scheme is published in early March 2021.