PLANS to halve funding for pensioners' bus passes in London would cost Kingston and Richmond councils nearly £1million each, it has been claimed.
Richmond Park MP Susan Kramer labelled the proposals 'outrageous' and called on the government to protect free travel for people with disabilities and for the over-60s.
Under the plans, announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) last week, annual funding for local authorities in the capital would be slashed from £58m to £30m. Ministers claim the grants are being cut because they overestimated how many
people from outside the capital would take advantage of free bus travel when the scheme was rolled out. They insist the move will not affect free travel for the elderly and disabled.
The government agreed to reconsider the allocation of grants after complaints from local authorities in other parts of the country that the scheme was costing them millions.
They would receive extra cash as part of the proposals.
Ms Kramer, who wrote to the government opposing the cuts when they were first mooted in August, claimed they would cost Kingston and Richmond councils nearly £2m in total.
"The most vulnerable in our community must not be punished by the failed Labour
government," she said.
"The Freedom Pass has been a real lifeline for so many elderly and disabled people, and to threaten its funding is a cruel insult.
"Richmond and Kingston are already in the bottom three worst-funded councils in London. To expect them to search over-stretched budgets to keep this valuable scheme going is outrageous."
London Councils also rounded on the proposals, warning they could lead to council tax rises and the loss of local services. The free travel scheme benefits 11m people nationwide and costs the government £1billion.
The plans relating to the budget for the next financial year are available for consultation until December 30.