Buckinghamshire Council has launched a scheme for older and disabled bus passengers to get discounts on their travel costs. The news will be welcome as the age when people in England can get a free bus pass is set to increase over the coming years.
People who live in England can currently apply for a free bus pass when they reach state pension age, which is currently 66 for both men and women.
However, the state pension age is due to increase gradually to 67 between 2026 and 2028 and then to 68 between 2044 and 2046.
Buckinghamshire Council is helping residents who may be impacted by the change with a five-month bus fare discount trial.
From April to August, those with a council concession bus pass with be able to travel for a reduced £1 before 9am, reports Bucks Free Press.
Steven Broadbent, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “By offering travel before 9am for a reduced fare of £1, the new trial will provide greater flexibility and accessibility for passengers and promote the benefits of using the local bus network.”
Bus pass holders already have free travel on weekdays between 9am and 11.59pm. In accordance with the rules for England, residents of Buckinghamshire can get a free bus pass when they reach state pension age.
The new ‘early bird’ concession will be in effect for trips within Buckinghamshire, as long as they begin and end within the county.
Residents aged 65 and over qualify for the concession pass and so can access the £1 discounted fare.
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People aged 60 and over may still qualify for free transport if they live in parts of the UK. For instance, those who live in London can get free transport on buses, the Tube and other transport within the Capital.
People in Wales can get a free bus pass once they turn 60. The Government website has a checker tool where a person can find out what discounts are available in their area.
The tool works by a person typing in their postcode and it then directs them to their local council website, which will have the relevant information.
State pension payments recently increased 10.1 percent for both the basic and new state pension.
The full basic state pension now pays £156.20 a week while the full new state pension is £203.85 a week.
A person can find out their state pension age using a tool on the Government website. There is also a state pension forecast tool which will show a person how much state pension they are on track to receive.
A person may be able to increase their state pension by voluntarily paying National Insurance contributions to top up any gaps in their record.
An individual typically needs 30 years of contributions to get the full basic state pension and 35 years of contributions to get the full new state pension.
People of state pension age may also want to check if they can apply for Pension Credit, which tops up the incomes of pensioners on low incomes.
An eligible person can apply for the support up to four months before they reach state pension age.
The much-underclaimed benefit tops up a person’s weekly income to £201.05 a week for single claimants and up to £306.85 a week for couples.
Claiming the benefit also provides access to other means of support from the Government, including council tax discounts, free TV licences for claimants aged 75 and over and help with heating bills.
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