Somerset County Council is consulting over proposals to cut concessionary fares reimbursement rate from 70% to 55.5%. The proposal comes after spending months reviewing the national concessionary travel scheme arrangements. The consultation commenced as CBW went to press (September 19) and a final decision will be made during January for implementation in March 2012.
The council’s minutes setting out the reasons and implications of their decision stated: “The current scheme in Somerset has been in operation since 2008 and the reimbursement rate to operators has not been reviewed since. The decision is being taken now to enable implementation of a new scheme in time for the new financial year following a four-month statutory consultation process.
“In 2011/12 the estimated costs for reimbursements to operators is £8.6m. Somerset received a settlement of £7.1954m of which £7.0745m is budgeted for operator reimbursement resulting in a shortfall of £1.526m. “Should the reduction in the generation factor be agreed the reimbursements to operators for 2012/13 would be in the region of £6.8m (based on 2011/12 figures). This would result in approximately £1.8m savings. This saving would offset the projected shortfall of £1.526m.”