Fare concessions for older people: identifying the numbers

Document type
Leach, Jeremy
Intergenerational Foundation
Date of publication
17 May 2013
Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion, Older Adults
Social welfare
Material type

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In Britain most of the over 60s are given a generous taxpayer-funded subsidy to use public transport. But how do people actually use this in practice? And how much does it cost?

In order to investigate how people use age-related fare concessions, IF analysed passenger surveys produced by the Department for Transport. Among other significant findings, these revealed that over £71 million is spent by the government each year funding the commutes of older workers who receive age-related travel subsidies – a discovery which raises many significant questions about whether this is either fair or the best use of public money, especially given that the cost of transport is a major barrier preventing many unemployed young people from finding work.

The report also argues that universal travel subsidies are highly regressive, possessing a greater value for better-off pensioners because they are given tax-free. This should stimulate debate about whether Britain’s transport policy does the maximum amount of public good, and whether it is fair to members of all the generations, regardless of age.