In times like these, it is especially important that tax payers money is used most effectively. The extra cost of extending the scheme in London has come out at £7m a year, far less than was anticipated, and will be even less next year. As a result, London councils have received a £49m surplus per year in additional concessionary fares funding.
It is unfortunate, but understandable, that the government has decided that it is right to claw back some of this overpayment. London boroughs will still make a surplus on the scheme next year but the overpayment, which is funded from other tax payers, will be much reduced.
Prior to the introduction of this grant London’s boroughs fully funded the Freedom Pass scheme in conjunction with TfL. The surplus on this grant simply enabled them to reduce their contribution. Unlike Bromley Tories, Labour councils throughout London are fully prepared to increase their contribution once again.
Labour councils in London have always fought for more resources for London and have lobbied successfully to minimise any loss to London.
Last year, Labour supported a proposal to retain a surplus of £20m to offset future changes to Government and TfL grants. The Tories and Lib Dems voted it down and put the money back into their own budgets. What short sighted, poor financial management that has turned out to be.