THE announcement of discounted cross-Solent travel for residents on low incomes has been met with a mixed reaction from Islanders.

While many are pleased that 14,000 Islanders will be eligible for a discount on their travel, others have said the discounts don’t do enough to help everyone.

More than 80 people have already applied to the council to see if they qualify.

Council leader Dave Stewart said: “It’s a good thing that we can get down the cost down of travelling for some people. However, I have not lost sight of the fact that there are more people out there, in the mid range who say ‘What about us?’ The challenge has not gone away and we support Island MP Bob Seely in his call for a public service obligation, and fairer fares for Islanders.”

However, many Islanders still have questions about how the scheme will work, which have been answered by Cllr Stewart here.

Who is going to pay for the scheme?

The ferry companies are leading the discount. There are no costs to the council other than administrative costs. The council is dealing with the initial applications however, the scheme is mainly administered by the ferry companies. The council has not funded it in any way and no money is being spent on extra resources to deal with the applications.

When someone applies for the discount, the application is sent to the ferry company, who check with the council if the person named is eligible. It’s a ‘very simple’ process.

Who is going to administer the scheme?

The ferry companies are leading the administration of the scheme. The team who deal with the housing benefit will be checking applications, but no extra resources will be put in to help with the initial flood of applications.

How do you apply?

Through the relevant ferry companies. Your application is then sent to the council who assess it, and if you are eligible for the discount a code will be automatically applied to your account every time you travel.

Red funnel applications click here.

Wightlink applications click here.

Hover travel: The web form isn’t yet done, but you can take proof of your benefits when you go to buy a ticket.

Is there a limit on how many times you can travel?

There is no limit and the discount is applied every time. But the scheme will be reviewed by the ferry companies themselves and it’s not clear yet if it’s going to be a set time for the scheme in general.

When it comes round to the end of the financial year and people are re-assessed for benefits this may change if they are eligible.

Applications must be made to the council seven days before travelling, to allow processing time.

What discounts are available?

Wightlink: those who qualify will be able to pay the price of multilink crosses (approximately £27 each way) without having to pay the upfront cost of a booklet of ten.

Red Funnel: For those travelling with Red Funnel, they will be able to get a £48 ferry return, or 20 per cent off the lowest standard web fare if this is cheaper — so the maximum amount paid will be £48.

For foot passengers, Hovertravel are offering a £12 return, and Red Funnel a £10 return.

The Red Jet is not part of the scheme. All discounts are subject to availability.

What benefits qualify?

You need to be a resident on the Island, claiming local council tax support or housing benefit. You do not have to be the driver of the vehicle for the discount to be valid.

You’ll need a letter of benefit entitlement, or a council tax bill, as well as photo ID if claiming in person at Hovertravel.

Is it flat rate, or means tested?

Flat rate — anyone in receipt of either benefit is eligible for the discount.