Sadiq Khan quizzed by pensioner on future of free bus passes
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A free bus pass is a convenience for older individuals who would like to get out and about in their local area, and perhaps further afield. Many will need to travel to appointments, undertake weekly shopping, or see family and friends now coronavirus restrictions are lifted. However, Britons may be required to wait slightly longer than they may have anticipated to unlock their entitlement.
This is because state pension age, which is in some instances tied to the age at which a free bus pass can be received, is changing.
The age at which a person can get a free bus pass varies across the four nations of the United Kingdom.
As such, it will be important for older people to pay attention to see when they can get their hands on free bus travel.
In Wales, a free bus pass can be obtained when a person reaches the age of 60.
State pension age changes could affect your entitlement to a free bus pass (Image: Getty)
This is also the case for individuals who are resident in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
People will need to apply when they reach this age, and can do so via the Government’s official website, after having searched “Older person’s bus pass”.
However, there is an important difference to bear in mind for those who are resident in England.
The Government explains: “In England, you can get a bus pass for free travel when you reach the state pension age.”
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While the state pension age is currently set at 66 after gradual uprating, this is not the end of the alterations by the Government.
The state pension age is increasing for both men and women, and is set to reach 67 by 2028.
Current law allows the state pension age to rise again from 67 to 68 between 2044 and 2046.
As a result, then, due to England’s free bus pass age being intrinsically tied to the state pension age, these pensioners could be in for a longer wait.
State pension age can impact a free bus pass in England (Image: EXPRESS)
Many will question why there are different rules for the different nations of the UK.
But this is to do with devolvement, with local governments from the nations setting their own rules as it comes to transportation.
Some have called for a change to England’s free bus pass age to align it with other parts of the UK – but there do not appear to be plans to do so.
There are some exceptions to the rule when it comes to England – such as in London.
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Those who are living there will be able to receive free transport not only on buses, but also tubes and other transport from the age of 60 – but only in the capital.
This is available through what is known as a Freedom Pass, designed to make the process easier for older people.
However, it is worth noting these individuals will only be able to travel for free in London with this entitlement.
To help people understand when they will be able to receive certain entitlements, the Government has developed an online tool.
The ‘Check your state pension age’ tool can help individuals to understand:
- When they will reach state pension age
- When their Pension Credit qualifying age is
- When they will be eligible for free bus travel