Sir George joined Help the Aged at a reception in Westminster to welcome the launch of the new national bus pass for older people introduced on April 1st .
The bus pass came into effect on 1st April and people aged 60 and over will now be able to travel free on local bus services anywhere in England. Help the Aged has fully backed the new bus pass but has warned that some older people simply won’t be able to use buses due to mobility problems or poor local services.
Sir George has backed the Charity’s Flexible Fares campaign which is calling for local authorities to provide alternatives to the bus pass such as taxi tokens or dial-a-ride schemes.
“The introduction of the free bus pass is fantastic news for older people throughout North West Hampshire. This will give people the freedom to travel around the area freely without worrying about administrative borders. They can come to Westminster and use the London buses."
“Getting out and about is vital to staying healthy and active in later life and I would urge all those over 60 in North West Hampshire to ensure they take up this new entitlement.”
Kate Jopling, head of public affairs at Help the Aged, says: “It’s great to have George Young support our campaign. We’re hoping travel concessions for older people will come along a bit like buses - with the bus pass being the first in a string of concessionary travel options being opened up for older people. The next stop is flexible fares.”
Recent Help the Aged research found that:
Two fifths* of older people in the UK are not within walking distance of a bank, friends and family or health and social services(1);
When asked to improve one thing in their local area, nearly one in five older people (16 per cent) chose more frequent and accessible public transport(1);
Four out of 10 older people (44 per cent) said they would use their car less if public transport or concessions were improved(2).
Notes to Editors
*Bank 45%, friends and family 42%, health and social services 39%. ICM interviewed a random sample of 1000 adults aged 60+ by telephone omnibus between 25th July – 2nd August 2007. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.icmresearch.co.uk.
962 older people across the UK responded to a Help the Aged survey between October and December 2007
Help the Aged is the charity fighting to free disadvantaged older people in the UK and overseas from poverty, isolation, neglect and ageism. It campaigns to raise public awareness of the issues affecting older people and to bring about policy change. The Charity delivers a range of services: information and advice, home support and community living, including international development work. These are supported by its paid-for services and fundraising activities - which aim to increase funding in the future to respond to the growing unmet needs of disadvantaged older people. Help the Aged also funds vital research into the health issues and experiences of older people to improve the quality of later life.
Help the Aged urgently needs donations and support to help it in the increasingly challenging fight to free disadvantaged older people from poverty, isolation and neglect. Visit www.helptheaged.org.uk or call 0207 239 1982.