Tag Archives: concessionary

Manifestos for Older People, Disability, and Carers

Cathy has welcomed the publication of Labour manifestos spelling out the range of pledges that the party is making for older people, people with disability, and carers.

“These constitute a firm commitment to safeguard and expand public services. We introduced national concessionary travel, and we will protect and expand it.

“We will introduce a National Care Service and put an end to the postcode lottery of provision.

“We know how much we owe to the 657,000 unpaid carers in Scotland, and we want to improve the support they get and to enhance the opportunities that are open to them.”

Cathy called for national concessionary travel in the first parliament. It became a manifesto pledge in 2003. Since then she has argued for extensions to the scheme.

As Convener of the Equal Opportunities Committee, she chaired a major Disability Inquiry which made many recommendations for improvements.

She has been Convener of the Cross Party Group on Carers since 2007, working closely with carers organisations to raise carers’ issues in the Scottish Parliament.

Labour’s manifesto for older people includes pledges to:

  • Protect the concessionary bus travel scheme for all over 60s and extend to those with mobility challenges and those in remote areas
  • End the postcode lottery of care with the creation of a National Care Service
  • Establish Scotland first chronic pain centre
  • Implement a new boiler scrappage scheme to help older people peoples’ bills
  • Introduce a new right to see a cancer specialist and get results within two weeks, halving the current waiting times.

In the manifesto for people with disabilities, Labour pledges to:

  • ensure that Scottish Labour’s focus on jobs and training is inclusive and supports opportunities for disabled people;
  • support disabled people through the tough economic times;
  • ensure a bold shift towards prevention in healthcare;
  • deliver better care at the right time;
  • improve mobility and access to the concessionary travel scheme for people with disabilities;

Support for carers includes

  • support for carers centres;
  • measures to prevent carers falling into fuel poverty;
  • a guarantee to ensure that the Future Jobs Fund and modern apprenticeship schemes are fully accessible to carers, young carers and those who face the most challenges in accessing the labour market;
  • support for young carers, including implementing the young carers strategy, embedding awareness of the needs of young carers in teacher training and in the policies of individual schools, and more flexibility for young carers getting the Educational Maintenance Allowance.
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Community Transport

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has tackled the Transport Minister on the issue of support for Community Transport schemes such as Forth Valley’s Dial-a-Journey.

Opening the Scottish Parliament Questions, Cathy asked whether the Scottish Government would “extend the national concessionary travel scheme to include demand-responsive community transport schemes such as Dial-a-Journey in Forth Valley, which is used by older and disabled people who are eligible for the scheme but cannot use scheduled services”

In his reply, the Minister said that “the scheme has been the subject of a review since last July. The review is now complete and the resulting report and recommendations will be published this month.”

Cathy then asked “why are private bus operators trusted to operate concessionary transport schemes when community transport organisations are not? A number of disabled and older people throughout the country cannot access travel schemes. Will the minister please look again at the discrimination that those people face daily?”

The Minister, Stewart Stevenson. accepted that this was “a perfectly fair point about the need to provide access to affordable public transport for people with a range of disabilities that prevent their having ready access to standard service buses. We provide substantial support for a wide range of demand-responsive transport, which comes in many shapes and sizes. Some forms fall within the present scheme, whereas others are outside it. We have commissioned additional work on the demands of the transport sector to which Cathy Peattie refers. That work will be available to us later.”

Speaking later, Cathy said: “I have raised this issue several times, through questions, motions and in committee. It is important to maintain pressure on the Scottish Government. Let’s hope that the report takes a positive and constructive approach to support for such services. They really should be included in the national concessionary travel scheme.”

See also: https://cathypeattie.wordpress.com/2008/10/20/fare-deal-for-community-transport/

MSP calls for carers’ travel concession

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has called for everyone who needs a companion in order to travel to be given the same concessions, whatever public transport they use.

Cathy said: “The Scottish Blind Persons’ Travel Card is an excellent scheme. It gives free travel on all bus, coach, rail and ferry services, not only to the blind person, but also, if they can only use public transport with assistance, to a companion.

“Unfortunately, other people who need to be accompanied can only take a companion when they travel by bus. I believe that they should also be able to apply for a travel card that permits them to travel with a companion on other public transport, not just buses.

“Journeys that are relatively quick and straightforward by train can become impossible if they depend on being accompanied by bus, with long journey times and poor connections.

“I don’t see any good argument against it, since the principle and the operation is already established – we would just be getting rid of an anomaly in the concessionary travel that is currently provided, and it would make a big difference to those who would benefit.”

See S3M-03815 Cathy Peattie (Falkirk East) (Scottish Labour): Extension of Concessionary Accompanied Travel

Public urged to support Bus Regulation

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie is calling for support for a Bill to regulate Bus Services.

Cathy said: “I have dealt with numerous complaints about bus services. We have had some successes, but I am convinced that there would be fewer problems and that they would be dealt with more easily if the buses were properly regulated, and I have called for this in the past.

“I have also called for free bus travel to include all people in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, and for free travel to cover users of buses run by community transport organisations,

“So I welcome and support the Bill which is being proposed by my colleague, Charlie Gordon MSP.

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Fare Deal for community transport

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie is calling for the national concessionary travel scheme to be extended to include community transport schemes such as Forth Valley’s Dial-a-Journey.

“Scheduled bus services don’t always meet the needs of older and disabled people, and so they can find it difficult to take advantage of the current scheme,” said Cathy.

“More accessible and flexible services such as Dial-a-Journey address that need, but are not covered by the scheme. I think we should use the travel scheme to support voluntary organisations who are meeting the need for transport in areas without bus services and services for people who are unable to use public transport – collectively known as demand responsive transport.
“Over two million journeys are made each year in Scotland using demand responsive community transport schemes. Many of the people making those journeys have or are eligible for a free bus card but are unable to make use of it. Is it fair that although eligible for free travel, they are effectively excluded from the free bus scheme?

“They would not have to pay if they could use regular buses, but as it is, travel costs for accessible transport mean that they are unlikely to travel unless absolutely necessary.”

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U turn on buses

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has welcomed the news that Scotland’s pensioners will continue to enjoy free bus travel.

SNP Ministers confirmed last month they were cutting the budget in real terms for concessionary fares by £10 million over the next three years in answer to a Parliamentary Question.

Cathy spoke on the issue in parliament, calling for the scheme to be protected and extended.

“This is an important victory for the campaign to stop Alex Salmond shoving our grannies off the bus,” she said.

“Alex Salmond had refused to guarantee that charges would not be introduced, or that the scheme would remain free at all times, and throughout Scotland. The SNP has been under pressure to come clean on their review of concessionary travel. After weeks of dodging the issue the Scottish Government has finally caved in.

“They are however still slashing £10 million from the budget in real terms, and we will be scrutinising the review for other hidden cuts.”

Labour Spokesperson Des McNulty said: “Alex Salmond has done more twists and turns on this issue than a bendy bus. But if this is his final u-turn then it is the first victory of Labour’s by-election campaign in Glasgow East.”

On the buses

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Cathy Peattie has highlighted the shortcomings of public transport in the Falkirk area, and called for action to tackle the problems, including bus regulation.

“Public transport is one of the most persistent and widespread sources of dissatisfaction among my constituents,” she said.

“I wish that First ScotRail would give my constituents a better deal. Fares from Falkirk and Polmont to Edinburgh and Glasgow are more per mile than most. A passenger station in Grangemouth would also be exceedingly welcome.

“Rail might be expensive and serve too few places, but bus travel is undoubtedly the biggest bugbear. If we are serious about tackling climate change and encouraging people to use public transport, we need better buses, more routes and timetables that meet the public’s needs.

“It is too easy to say that there is no demand when the lack of services has forced travellers to use private transport. It is too easy to say that people would rather use their cars and that buses are uncomfortable, inaccessible and expensive. It is also too easy to say that services are not viable when, if the truth be known, they arrive late, leave early and miss connections, if they appear at all.

“People need reliable and affordable public transport that is a pleasure to use, not a nightmare. Without it, we will not achieve our targets for modal shift and climate change.

“To be fair, some bus companies realise their shortcomings and the better among them attempt to take on board passengers’ views, but the bottom line is always profits, not people.

“Competition between bus companies is often imperfect, if it exists at all. In such circumstances, we cannot expect companies to provide adequate self-regulation and to achieve proper integration of public transport. We need Scotland-wide regulation. We also need to address the Scottish Government’s policies, which have left Scotland’s bus operators with higher costs than those in other parts of the United Kingdom and have led to massive fare increases for bus passengers throughout Scotland.

“We have seen a secret deal to extend the rail franchise and higher-than-inflation increases in rail fares. There has also been outrage among users of ferry services on the Clyde, in the northern isles and on most routes in Argyll because of discrimination in ferry fares between islands.

“In particular, we should strive for better provision for older and disabled travellers, and young families with prams and small children. Bus timetables should include information about low-loader and accessible buses. I still hear stories about disabled people waiting an hour or more for an accessible bus. That is not good enough.

“Free bus passes have been very well received by the people of Scotland. I have yet to hear a good reason for not extending concessionary travel to those who are on the lower rate of the disability allowance. We must also address the need for a concessionary travel scheme for those who depend on community transport, and I welcome what the minister said about that. It is time to stop dithering and to regain the momentum to improve public transport in Scotland.”