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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 January 2008, 15:44 GMT
Disabled bus fare scheme warning
Disability campaigners in Devon are warning changes in concessionary fares will make life worse for some people in the county.

The local-run Devonwide pass, which allows disabled travellers' carers free travel on off-peak buses with the person they care for, ends in April.

A new national scheme starts on 1 April, but carers are not covered.

Campaigners say the change will hit the county's disabled severely if they have to pay carers' fares too.

This will impact certainly on the disabled person's revenue
Bob Newton, Teignbridge Access group

The Devon-run pass allows carers' concessions in most of the county, except in areas run by two unitary authorities.

In Torbay, carers get free travel within the bay but the council has not yet decided what will happen in April. Carers in Plymouth have never had concessions.

However, campaigners said the loss of the carers' concessions would have a huge impact on the most severely disabled it currently helped.

Bob Newton, of the Teignbridge Access group, said: "This will impact certainly on the disabled person's revenue, because disabled people are certainly financially more challenged because of their disability."

Devon's local councils said the government was not paying enough for the new scheme anyway, and that carers' passes should be financed on a national basis.

Scheme 'under-funded'

Alan Connett, of Teignbridge District Council, who speaks for all Devon's district councils on the issue, said: "The solution is quite simple.

"The government frankly just ought to pay for the scheme, including carers. That would be the easiest and simplest thing to do.

"Councils across the county and the South West are struggling to put the money aside for this scheme because it is simply under-funded."

The new national pass also offers those aged 60 and over free off-peak local bus travel.

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