Scrapping Zip Cards for 11 to 18 year old ‘cruel’ says Brent’s City Hall member
PUBLISHED: 18:06 18 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:21 21 September 2020
Navin Shah has said the government’s plan to scrap free travel in London for 11 to 17 year olds is “cruel”.
The London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow, is backing the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) which is against government plans to scrap Zip Cards for young people in London.
The government’s proposed suspension of the concession is one of the terms of its bailout of Transport for London, amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
At a meeting on September 3, the London Assembly passed a motion calling upon Sadiq Khan to continue lobbying the government to reverse the policy.
According to a survey launched by CPAG on September 18, 47 per cent of parents said removing free travel would have a negative impact on household bills, and 24pc of young people said the cut would impact the school or college they choose.
BAME children are negatively impacted, with 72pc saying they used their zip card to get to school, compared with 61pc of white children. High numbers of young people also said public transport fares are too expensive.
Sadiq Khan wrote to transport secretary Grant Shapps in June, urging him not to scrap the Zip Card, but the request was refused.
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“CPAG’s research shows the depth of despair some families are facing at the prospect of these cuts. It’s clear young people and their parents are very worried about the financial impact these plans will have on family budgets, and of course these changes are coming at a time when people are already concerned about their livelihoods because of Covid-19,” Mr Shah said.
“The removal of free travel is going to have a real impact on the ability of some children to attend school, to engage in after school activities and to experience the opportunities London has to offer them.
“What the government is doing by scrapping free travel for 11-18 year olds is nothing short of cruel.
“The government is targeting our children, many of them very vulnerable, to score cheap political points against the Mayor of London.
“I urge it to do the right thing, add this proposal to its bonfire of bad ideas, and protect the futures of young Londoners.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said the suspension of free bus and tram travel for under 18s will help to “reduce demand for public transport so that those who need to use it can do so safely”.
“Our £1.6bn support package to keep vital TfL services operating included a series of conditions which were agreed by the Mayor of London. The government is working closely with TfL and London councils to make sure every single eligible child continues to receive free travel to school.”
The changes for 11-15 year olds are due from January 4 and for 16-17 year olds from February 1.
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