Liveaboard pensioners can get bus passes

One of the issues raised in the Boaters Voices project last year was the difficulty faced by boaters without home moorings in getting the concessionary bus pass that pensioners and disabled people are entitled to. The barrier faced by liveaboard pensioners was that the Councils that administer the concessionary travel scheme would not accept a Poste Restante address or provide a bus pass to someone with no address at all. This was pursued with Wiltshire Council. BaNES Council is also reviewing its procedures for applying for the bus pass.

A spokesperson for Wiltshire Council said:
“We will accept a mooring licence or a copy of evidence showing the person is eligible to vote in Wiltshire.  We are required to issue passes to people who are permanent residents of Wiltshire.  We do accept Poste Restante or PO box address, if for example they have a letter from DWP – confirming they are eligible for state pension and supply a copy of a recent DWP state pension entitlement letter addressed to themselves at the address on the application form.  The applicant is required to show that they are eligible for the concessionary bus pass to be issued by Wiltshire Council.”
A permanent resident is someone whose main or only home is in Wiltshire.

In other words, you can get a concessionary bus pass if you have a letter from the council’s electoral registration officer confirming your registration to vote as a person with no fixed abode by declaring a local connection. This letter may be addressed to you Poste Restante at the local post office or delivery office, or if you have no address it can be addressed to you at the council’s electoral registration office. Secondly, pensioners need to prove their age; they can do this by providing a birth certificate, passport or driving licence, or  a recent letter from DWP confirming their state pension entitlement.

You can register to vote as a person of no fixed abode by declaring a local connection. See http://kanda.boatingcommunity.org.uk/voter-registration-is-changing/ This page has an electoral registration form which you can download. The form can be used for any local authority. The article has the addresses of the electoral registration officers along the K&A.

The Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 entitles eligible people who are resident  in England to travel on any eligible service within England. Since April 2008, the concessionary travel scheme has provided free off-peak local bus travel to eligible pensioners and  disabled people anywhere in England. The scheme is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Local authorities must reimburse bus  operators for all concessionary journeys starting within their boundaries,  regardless of where the concessionary pass holder making the journey is  resident.

You can download Wiltshire Council’s application form for a concessionary bus pass here Wilts2013 August Travel Concessions Application form

A Poste Restante address (at the local delivery office or some post offices) or a “care of” address is acceptable for claiming most welfare benefits such as Housing Benefit, Tax Credits, Jobseekers Allowance and State Pension. It is advisable to write the address in a way that makes it clear you live on a boat, for example:

John Smith,
narrowboat Wizard,
c/o 4 Privet Drive,
Trowbridge,
Wiltshire,
BA14 1XX

or

John Smith,
narrowboat Wizard,
Poste Restante,
Bradford on Avon Delivery Office,
Treenwood Industrial Estate,
Bradford on Avon,
Wiltshire,
BA15 2AA

Do complain if your address is recorded or written wrongly, because it is important that the relevant authority does not classify you as living at the “care of” or Poste Restante address, otherwise you may encounter problems such as having your application for benefits rejected in error. Councils and the DWP/ Jobcentres all have a complaints procedure which is explained on their web site.

Do complain to the relevant council if you apply for a concessionary bus pass and are refused for reasons such as you do not have an acceptable address or a postcode or you are not considered to be resident in the local authority area. If you need any advice on making a complaint, please contact info@boatingcommunity.org.uk or 07928 078208.

You cannot get a pensioners bus pass unless you are over the state pension age, which is changing at the moment. Between now and 2018, both men and women are eligible at the pensionable age for women. From 2018 the state pension age for everyone will be 65 and from 2020 it will be 66. If you are a man aged between 60 and 65, depending on your age you may be eligible for State Pension Credit now, so do check and claim it if you are eligible. You can find out more from the Government’s web site here https://www.gov.uk/calculate-state-pension

See also http://kanda.boatingcommunity.org.uk/boaters-voices-film-online-now/

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