Freedom Pass Subsidy (4)

MQT on 2009-11-18
Session date: 
November 18, 2009
Question By: 
Richard Tracey
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


By cutting the subsidy, have the Government forced another burden on already underfunded borough Councils?


Answer for Freedom Pass Subsidy (4)

Answer for Freedom Pass Subsidy (4)

Answered By: 
The Mayor

When the Government introduces new burdens on local government it is essential that they provide sufficient funding to enable individual authorities to cover reasonable implementation and ongoing administration costs. London Boroughs are now being penalised because the Department for Transport failed to allocate sufficient funding to enable all local authorities in England to fund the costs of providing free bus travel across England for the over 60s from April 2008 onwards.

I have agreed a five year funding deal with borough Leaders to secure the future of the Freedom Pass scheme which provides protection to council taxpayers from the full effects of inflation and fare increases. The deal also secures my manifesto commitment to introduce 24 hour travel for pass holders on Transport for London services which has now been up and running since January.

I cannot, however, protect boroughs or council taxpayers from the effects of arbitrary reductions in grant funding from central government for concessionary fares or other services. Transport for London and London Councils will continue to work closely together to assess the implications of the grant cut and ensure the Freedom Pass scheme is protected.

As public finances become more constrained over the next few years it is important that the GLA, London Councils and boroughs work closely together to ensure that we maximise the share of national resources allocated to the capital. At a time when the Government is planning to take an additional £560m a year from London's business ratepayers to subsidise local authority services in the rest of England it cannot be right that London's share of the national cake for vital services continues to decline.