By Lucy Ashton
Jackie Baillie MSP has told of her frustrations at the Scottish Government’s travel pass scheme for young people after it emerged just five percent of those eligible in West Dunbartonshire had successfully applied.
Earlier this year, the Dumbarton constituency MSP was contacted by several constituents who said that they had problems applying for a National Entitlement Card (NEC) for their child which offers free bus travel across Scotland for those aged under 22.
Now, figures released by Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth show just 851 young people in West Dunbartonshire have received their free travel card despite 16,600 being eligible as of February 14th.
In Argyll and Bute, 1136 of 14,100 eligible young people have received their travel card. This represents eight percent.
Constituents contacted Ms Baillie’s office earlier in the year to say they were having problems applying due to difficulties filling out the form and complex identification requirements.
The Scottish Government have since confirmed that criteria for identification has been widened to allow the likes of out of date passports to be used to complete the application process.
Jackie Baillie, Dumbarton constituency MSP, pictured left, said: “I am pleased that steps have been taken to make the application process easier for people however it is shocking that just five percent of eligible young people in West Dunbartonshire and eight percent in Argyll and Bute have these passes. This is disappointing and represents a failure of the scheme.
“I would like to see the SNP Government properly publicise this scheme, something which they were unwilling to do earlier in the year. Having a National Entitlement Card could be a lifeline to young people who are currently facing a cost of living crisis. It could make a huge difference to families at a time when household bills are rising rapidly.”