Poverty Alliance launch Everyone Aboard campaign
Ahead of the Scottish Parliament election, a new campaign has today been launched, calling on Scotland’s political parties to commit to extending free bus travel to everyone receiving Universal Credit (and other low-income benefits) and under 25s.
The Everyone Aboard campaign – coordinated by the Poverty Alliance and supported by a range of children’s charities, anti-poverty groups, trade unions and environmental organisations – is launched at a time of growing hardship across Scotland.
Young people have been particularly hard-hit by job disruption as a result of the pandemic. Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that under 25s, especially women, have been hit harder economically than any other age group. They have a higher chance of furlough, precarious employment, unemployment, and are the most likely to work in low-paid sectors such as hospitality and retail.
But too many people in Scotland, the campaign says, were locked out of accessing vital opportunities because they could not afford the cost of public transport. Between 2014 and 2019 bus fares rose by 18%; while the value of social security payments fell, and wages stagnated.
The campaign is also highlighting how greater use of public transport will be vital if Scotland is to meet its climate change goals. The Scottish Youth Parliament found that young people would be more likely to use the bus if fares were less expensive. Extending free bus travel to all young people under 25 would accelerate the normalisation of bus use in place of cars.
In a letter sent yesterday to Scotland’s party leaders, Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said:
“As a society, we believe we should look out for each other. But those whose finances have suffered most during the pandemic, people on low incomes and young people under 25, risk being left behind in our economic recovery.
Greater access to free bus transport is not only good for the environment, but will help tackle poverty, reduce geographical inequalities and help increase access to essential services.
The next Scottish Parliament has the chance to build a Scotland for all of us, one where no one is left behind. On the road to recovery, we can make sure everyone has a seat, by providing free bus travel to everyone receiving Universal Credit and other low-income benefits, and to all young people under 25.”