Older Persons: Provision of Public Services - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:47 pm on 13th June 2019.

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Photo of Lord Hussain Lord Hussain Liberal Democrat 4:47 pm, 13th June 2019

My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in the gap. I will make only a couple of points.

The provision of free public transport and television licences for the elderly are important issues. I would like the Government to issue centralised passes for all elderly people across the country, rather than leaving it to local authorities. We have experienced how, when certain provisions are on the other side of a local authority, and there are administrative problems from time to time, elderly people will suffer from a delay in passes being issued. Hospitals, dentists and doctors may be on the other side of the local geographical boundary, or perhaps a sports club they are a member of or want to spend their time in; bus passes for the elderly should be a centralised issue.

Off-peak provision also has to be looked at. What about appointments that elderly people have early in the morning at hospitals, dentists and other places? They have to attend them, so we should look at taking away only the off-peak provision and give them passes across the day.

Means-testing is another point. Organisations such as Age UK have told us that administrative costs would be higher with means-testing, so we should take it out and offer these services to all elderly people, as well as free television licences. The point was made very well in this Chamber earlier that many elderly people suffer from loneliness, and it would help for television provision to be given to them free of charge.