The bus pass saga shows us that some people in government still in some cases do not get it.
The Conservatives – rightly or wrongly – fought the last election on defending the bus pass. So did Labour, and I guess so did the Lib Dems.
So why did the Transport Department propose cutting Bus pass eligibility as one of its cuts? It was never likely to happen. Worse still, why did someone leak they were doing this, when the idea is for the Treasury’s spending review to look at a wide range of cuts from the easy to the much less acceptable and come to a decision in private, before then going out and trying to sell the end package to Parliament and people?
The language of 40% cuts is unhelpful. They may be looking at 40% real cuts over four years – not the same thing as 40% off next year’s cash which is what most people think they are proposing. They are not going to settle for 40% real cuts over four years or anything near that, given the overall increases in cash spending proposed. Some individual items – like ID cards, CAE bureaucratic controls over Councils and much unelected regional government – will get 100% cuts. That just takes more of the pressure off elsewhere.