December 12 2013 Latest news:
Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg addresses the Liberal Democrats' autumn conference at The Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow, Scotland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 14, 2013. See PA LIBDEMS stories. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Annabelle Dickson, Political Editor
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said he was very actively looking at whether youngsters can be given free or reduced bus travel in a bid to change a “wholly unfair system”.
The Liberal Democrat leader told his party conference it was among his top priorities and he was working with transport minister Norman Baker and schools minister David Laws on the issue.
But he also admitted it would be very expensive, costing hundreds of millions of pounds.
He said: “At the moment we’ve got, I think, a wholly unfair system where if you’re a 17-year-old going to college or to your local employer in London to do your apprenticeship, you get free bus travel. But if you’re a 17-year-old in Yeovil, you might have to pay hundreds of pounds, travelling probably longer distances if you live in the countryside, to do the same thing.
“It cannot be right at a time when we’ve got high youth unemployment,we’re desperately trying to give youngsters the opportunity wherever they live in the country to have access to education, to training, to apprenticeships, that this huge cost of living is not imposed upon you in some parts of the country and it is in others.”
He said he thought it was something he should try to deliver in coalition government, but if he could not do it with the Conservatives then the party should make it a commitment in its manifesto.
He said: “I find over and over again as I go around the country that youngsters, teenagers say to me: ‘help us with transport costs, this is really hurting us’. I hope we as a party will be able to help them.”