Norfolk bus pass funds see '£4.5m shortfall', says county council

Bus passes for the elderly and disabled could be cut unless the government pays for a £4.5m shortfall in funds, Norfolk County Council has said.

Leader Derrick Murphy believes the government got its sums wrong when it transferred the national concessionary bus scheme to the council in April.

Without the extra money it believes it is entitled to, the council said rural bus services could also be affected.

The Transport Minister has asked for the issue to be investigated.

The county council and Norfolk MPs, including Norman Lamb and Brandon Lewis, have raised the matter as part of a Fair Fares campaign being unveiled at County Hall on Monday.

Under the current concessionary scheme eligible older and disabled people are entitled to free off-peak travel.

The council said there were 180,000 pass holders in Norfolk, but currently the costs of providing the service "far outstrip resources allocated by the government".

Transport Minister Norman Baker said the government was not reducing its national entitlement for free bus travel, with it having a "very important social function".

He said he has written to the Department for Communities and Local Government to see whether the sum given to Norfolk County Council was correct.

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