4 Companion Cards for Disabled Children under Age Five

4 Companion Cards for Disabled Children under Age Five

Proposal at a glance

Children under 5 generally travel for free on the bus.  As a result access to a disabled bus pass starts at age 5.  However, this means that the parents and carers of otherwise eligible disabled under 5s have to pay for their bus travel when at age 5 the disabled child may qualify for a companion card or bus pass. A companion bus pass is given to someone who is not able to safely travel on their own and allows the companion also to travel for free.  

The Scottish Government is proposing to fix this anomaly by providing disabled under 5s with access to a companion bus pass where this is needed.

Please see Question 5 in Annex B for further details

4.1 As part of this Consultation we are seeking to address the anomaly in the Scheme where disabled children under age 5 are not currently entitled to a companion bus pass. 

4.2 As part of their commercial operations, most bus operators provide free bus travel for children under 5.  The Scheme eligibility criteria do not, therefore, include those under age 5 whether disabled or not.

Figure 6: Disabled children under 5 cannot get a Companion Card

Figure 6: Disabled children under 5 cannot get a Companion Card

4.3 Under the Scheme, companion cards are available to disabled people of fare paying age (age five and over) who need assistance to travel and who are in receipt of (i) the higher or middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance, (ii) the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment  or (iii) Attendance Allowance or who are certified blind.

4.4 This means that disabled children under 5 who would satisfy the companion eligibility criteria if they were older are not entitled to a companion card.  

4.5 We estimate that extending the coverage under the Scheme to provide companion cards to eligible disabled children under age 5, based on current eligibility criteria, would add up to an additional £623,000 to the cost of the Scheme for an estimated additional 3,210 bus pass holders.  

4.6 Question 5 in Annex B therefore invites your views on a proposal to extend the Scheme to disabled under 5s. 

4.7 We have no plans to adversely change disability eligibility criteria.