ISLAND MP Andrew Turner has branded as 'much too little — far too late’ a government re-think on the amount of cash it gives to the Isle of Wight Council to pay for free bus travel for pensioners.
In a letter to Mr Turner, transport minister Sadiq Khan has indicated a revised grant formula would lead to increased payments towards the scheme of around £890,000 next year.
The council has said the move would still leave it significantly out of pocket as the current shortfall in the scheme was around £3m.
The government’s fresh cash offer follows a meeting, held in January, between transport minister, Paul Clark, Mr Turner and the Isle of Wight Council’s then cabinet member for transport Cllr Tim Hunter-Henderson, as well as the council’s director of environment and neighbourhoods, Stuart Love.
During the meeting, they outlined the difficulties the Isle of Wight faced because the funding formula did not take account of the additional journeys the council was obliged to provide for tourists and holidaymakers.
Mr Turner said: "If the formula for funding the national scheme is unfair now, it has been unfair since its inception in 2008, yet there is no suggestion of any sort of compensation for those authorities, including the Isle of Wight, which lost out in previous years. This is much too little — far too late."
Cllr Edward Giles, the Isle of Wight council cabinet member for environment and transport, said: "While we welcome the apparent acknowledgement that the scheme is inadequately funded, we regret this response still leaves Isle of Wight council taxpayers significantly out of pocket."
Southern Vectis operations director Marc Morgan Huws said: "There are two separate issues, how much the government gives to the council and how much the council gives to us."