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Labour pledges free bus travel for young people

The policy could help up to 13 million young people save as much as £1,000 a year, according to Labour.

People aged under 25 would have free bus travel under a Labour government in areas where local authorities introduce bus franchising or bring services under public ownership, Jeremy Corbyn will say on Thursday.

The Labour leader will declare that “young people deserve a break” as he commits to helping them “travel to work, to study and to visit friends”.

Providing government funding to councils for free bus travel could help up to 13 million young people save as much as £1,000 a year, according to Labour.

The policy would be paid for using money ring-fenced from vehicle excise duty, the party said.

On a visit to a sixth form educational centre in Derby, Mr Corbyn will say: “Young people deserve a break.

“Nearly eight years of Tory austerity have hit their incomes, their chance to buy a house and their career opportunities.

“Labour wants to help young people make the most out of life by investing in them, which is why today we are pledging the next Labour government will provide the funds to cover free bus travel for under 25s, to support them to travel to work, to study and to visit friends.

“Our policy provides help where it is most needed.

“On average, children, young people and households with children each have less disposable income than working age households without children.

“Young people also tend to be in lower paid, more insecure work, and they spend a higher proportion of their income on travel. Giving them free bus travel will make a huge difference to their lives.”

Bus fares in England have risen by an average of 2.9% each year between 2012 and 2017 which is higher than the typical rate of inflation (2.3%), Department for Transport figures show.

The annual number of passenger journeys fell by 70 million or 1.5% in the year ending March 2017 compared with the previous 12 months.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald will claim that private bus companies should no longer be allowed to run services “for profit not people”.

He will say: “We’ll encourage local authorities to take back control of their buses so they can provide a better and more sustainable service to young and old alike, wherever they live.”

A DfT spokeswoman said: “This Government is committed to supporting young people to play an active role in building a stronger society, and we have already committed to introducing discounted bus and train travel for apprentices.

“Local councils and bus companies know their passengers best, and many already use their legal powers to offer discounted fares for young people.

“In some areas, local authorities can also set the bus fares and routes for the benefit of their communities, thanks to our Bus Services Act.

“We want the bus industry to do all it can to make services more affordable for young people, but a national concession could lead to existing discounts being withdrawn with some young people potentially having to pay more at certain times.”

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