In a report to be presented at Friday’s (13th December) Environment, Transport and Waste Cabinet Committee meeting (1), it is proposed to limit the 11-16 year old Freedom Pass to journeys up to the value £350. The current Freedom Pass allows unlimited journeys within Kent.
The report also proposes the introduction of a new Freedom Pass for 16 – 20 year olds which will be limited to journeys up to the value of £250. Both passes will cost £100 to buy and when the limit is exhausted young people or their parents will have to top-up the card by purchasing extra credit.The changes hope to save £7million as part of KCC drive to reduce it costs by £239 million over the next 4 years.
Thanet Green Party Councillor, Ian Driver, said “The plans discriminate massively against Thanet families. It is estimated that 28% of our young people live at, or close to, the poverty line. This is by far the highest rate of child poverty in Kent. To force the parents of these young people to find extra money to top their sons and daughters Freedom Passes when they are already struggling to make ends meet is totally unfair. It will cause great hardship to those least able to afford it”.Green Party KCC Councillor Martin Whybrow said that he will be opposing the plans. He pointed that apart from families on low income and dependent upon benefits, “young people living in rural areas who have to make longer journey’s to school or college will also be losers. Their credit will be used up much quicker than those living in urban areas of Kent and their hard-pressed parents will be forced to find extra money to top up their passes”.