Scotland Budget: SNP ministers urged to extend free bus travel to asylum seekers

SNP ministers have been urged to extend free bus travel to asylum seekers in Scotland.

Labour MSP Paul Sweeney said extending the concessionary travel scheme would cost the Scottish Government around £360,000 a year.

This equates to just 0.0005 per cent of its overall Budget, he said.

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Mr Sweeney said the vast majority of asylum seekers were fleeing wars and persecution, but were not allowed to work in the UK and were forced to live in "slum-like" accommodation, with just over £5 a day to live.

The cost of an all-day bus fare in Glasgow is £4.70 when using First Bus.

The Glasgow MSP said: “Asylum seekers are amongst some of the most destitute people in our country.

"Given virtually no support from the Home Office, they are often forced to choose between paying for travel to attend appointments and feeding themselves and their families."

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A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland has a long history of welcoming asylum seekers and refugees from all over the world.

"In re-building their lives they help make the country stronger, more compassionate and more successful for everyone.

“More broadly, our National Transport Strategy Delivery Plan outlines actions for reducing inequality and ensuring transport is accessible to all.

"We are working with our delivery partners to launch the new national concessionary travel scheme for free bus travel for young people aged 21 and under, who are resident in Scotland, from January 31st, 2022.

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“We haven’t yet seen the full detail or had a chance to consider the projected costs of this proposal. We will respond to Mr Sweeney once we’ve reviewed the detail.”

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