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MSP raises concerns around foster carers access to free bus pass scheme

By Lewis McBlane

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MSP Gillian Martin is raising concerns about access to free bus passes for young people.
MSP Gillian Martin is raising concerns about access to free bus passes for young people.

Concerns have been raised about access to the new young person's bus pass scheme.

The new scheme entitles Scottish young people from the age of five to 21 to free bus travel but foster carers are concerned about how the application process affects vulnerable children.

Parents, guardians or carers must apply on behalf of children younger than 16, a process that may require a birth certificate – something carers of disadvantaged children might not have.

In parliament MSP for Aberdeenshire East Gillian Martin asked Transport Minister Graeme Day about this issue.

Ms Martin said: "Foster carers in my area have raised with me the fact that care-experienced and looked-after children might not have ready access to their birth certificates and so might face the additional process of going to council social work departments for access to those, which might complicate or extend the process for them.

"Obviously these children and young people shouldn’t be disadvantaged and we need to make sure there are no additional barriers for them.”

In response, Mr Dey said: “Gillian Martin raises a perfectly valid point and I want to assure her we are aware of the challenges for foster families and kinship carer families.

"Clearly local authorities, which are corporate parents, have a responsibility here to help families access this benefit and we are working with local authorities to ensure this is happening.”

Eligible young people can now apply for the scheme by requesting a new Young Scot card.

The scheme will begin providing free bus travel on January 31.

Ms Martin said: “Access to free bus travel for everyone aged under 22-years-old is a fantastic initiative and one that I have welcomed as a representative of a rural constituency where access to free travel is essential.

“It is imperative we ensure children who have already faced many challenges are able to benefit from initiatives such as this one.

“It is clear this is an issue the Transport Minister and his staff are working hard to resolve this issue and work with local authorities on this matter, and I look forward to liaising with him further on to ensure it is resolved on behalf of care experienced young people.”

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