Equality Impact Assessment – Changes to Concessionary Travel Administration Background The Transport Act 2000 provided for the introduction of a national minimum standard for local authority concessionary travel schemes for elderly and disabled people by 1 June 2001, further amended by the Travel Concessions (Eligibility) Act 2002 and the Travel Concessions (Extension of Entitlement) (England) Order 2005.

The Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 extended the scope for statutory minimum requirements from 1 April 2008. This Act also specifies the design of the Concessionary Travel Pass.

Following an announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in November 2009, DfT has confirmed that orders have been placed confirming Worcestershire County Council as the Travel Concession Authority from 1st April 2011 and removing all powers from District Councils to create enforceable travel concessions on local bus services from that date.

Under the changes, Districts will no longer have enforcement powers to use with Bus Operators to create discretionary enhancements to the statutory national scheme in operation on local bus services but may use their Well Being powers to fund concessions and this is a practical way of retaining any Community Transport Concession.

The changes also necessitate a change in design of the Concessionary Travel Pass to carry the logo of Worcestershire County Council in place of individual District Council logos from 1st April 2011. There is also an expectation by bus operators that a single monthly claim for 'Worcestershire' from 1st April 2011 replacing the current arrangements requiring claims broken down at District level.

Previously announced changes to eligibility based on age came into effect from 1st April 2010 as the minimum age to qualify for a Concessionary Travel Pass on the grounds of age gradually increases from 60 to 65 in line with changes in Female pension entitlement and entitlement for the Winter Fuel Allowance.

There were 6.3 million concessionary journeys commencing in Worcestershire in 2009-10, an increase of approximately 100,000 over 2008-9. The upward trend continues into 2010-11 with journeys up 10% over the previous April. Concessionary journeys now account for 37% of all bus journeys. Reimbursement of bus operators under the Concessionary Travel Scheme cost District Councils £5.6 million in 2009-10.

The Consultation This consultation is to consider the impact of provision or non provision of discretionary enhancements to the English National Concessions Scheme that Worcestershire County Council as Travel Concession Authority has the powers to create and enforce from 1st April 2011.

This consultation will not consider provision of concessionary travel arrangements for Community Transport schemes as Worcestershire County Council understands that District Councils may continue to provide those arrangements under existing Well Being Powers.

The statutory concession is funded by central government and applies to persons resident in England meeting criteria for free travel on the basis of age or disability. Such persons may apply for a Concessionary Travel Pass to an English Concessionary Travel Authority that will entitle them to free travel on local bus journeys commencing in England at defined times. The statutory concession is available between the hours of 09:30 and 23:00 on weekdays and all day on weekends and Bank Holidays.

Travel Concession Authorities may at their own cost implement discretionary concessions to enhance the statutory scheme but any geographical variations must be on the basis of proven need. Current provision of discretionary enhancements on local bus services by Districts within Worcestershire are: Prior to 09:30 on Monday to Friday – Holders of passes issued by Bromsgrove District Council, Malvern Hills District Council, Redditch Borough Council and Wychavon District Council may travel free on a local bus service for journeys commencing in Bromsgrove, Malvern Hills, Redditch and Wychavon Certain Disabled pass holders who meet additional eligibility criteria may be entitled to be accompanied by a Companion who will be entitled to the free travel benefits of the pass holder for journeys commencing in Worcestershire. Malvern Hills District Council operates a reciprocal arrangement with Herefordshire Council on the mutual acceptance of Companion Passes issued by those Travel Concession Authorities.

Wychavon District Council and Wyre forest District Council currently offer transport tokens as an alternative to the bus pass to restricted groups but Wyre forest District Council is in the process of phasing this option out.

It is these discretionary enhancements that will be the subject of the consultation with individual residents, with groups respresenting residents who may be impacted by any change to provision and to the bus operators who are the service providers.

District Council will have he ability to create local arrangements using Well Being Powers, but the District Council will need to enter into separate contracts with the transport providers.

Financial Implications DfT will fund Worcestershire County Council for the statutory scheme only by means of the Formula Grant. DfT has announced that national funding will be reduced by £180 million p.a. to reflect reduced administration costs, changes in eligibility and potential changes to the method of reimbursement for bus operators.