Local MSP Jackie Baillie has backed campaigners’ calls for changes to the concessionary travel scheme to make it fairer for people with learning disabilities.
Enable Scotland recently launched the #StoptheBus campaign to persuade the Scottish Government to fix loopholes in the concessionary travel scheme which mean that some people with learning disabilities are not eligible for free bus passes. Jackie, who is also the Convener of the Cross Party group on Learning Disability, agreed to lobby SNP ministers for a change in the rules.
As things stand disabled people, who are in receipt of disability living allowance (DLA), are eligible for the concessionary travel scheme only if they qualify for the higher rate mobility component or the higher or middle rate care component. However this means that some people with learning disabilities are missing out on free bus passes.
Enable Scotland also raised concerns about people who had experienced difficulties using their free bus pass because of inconsistencies in how the scheme is operated by different transport companies and local authorities across Scotland.
Jackie wrote to SNP Social Justice Secretary, Alex Neil MSP to urge him to back Enable Scotland’s campaign and highlight the ways concessionary travel can transform the lives of people with learning disabilities.
“Free bus passes can be a lifeline for people with learning disabilities by providing access to opportunities which would otherwise not be available to them, like attending work or college and socialising with friends. This is not simply about financial support; the concessionary travel scheme opens up new avenues for people with learning disabilities by removing the psychological barriers to independent travel.
“Too many people in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh are held back from living fully active lives because of problems with obtaining and using free bus passes. I was delighted to pledge my support for #StoptheBus and I have written to the Scottish Government to call for action to improve access to free bus passes.”
You can sign Enable Scotland’s petition online at bit.ly/stopthebuscampaign.