Siobhan Benita: “Stop using young people as political pawns”


Siobhan Benita, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Mayor of London, has accused the Government of putting political point-scoring over young people in the row over free bus travel for under 18s in London.

One of the conditions of the Transport for London Covid-19 bailout deal, agreed by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Government in June, was the removal of free bus travel for under 18s in the capital.

Since then, London Councils have raised serious concerns about the cost and complexity of this change and young campaigners have highlighted the many ways they will be impacted by the loss of free bus travel – it will limit their ability to travel safely and affordably to school, to work as well as to cultural and social events.

Siobhan Benita recently met with London representatives from the UK Youth Parliament to hear their personal stories and insights. Speaking about their concerns, she said:

“It’s unacceptable that the Government is using young people to score political points with the Mayor of London. The thoughtless decision to remove free bus travel for under 18s is already damaging lives. I’ve heard from young people who are dropping career ambitions because they will no longer be able to afford to travel to the college of their choice to study a particular course.  Many others have real concerns about personal safety and the added financial pressure that this change will put on families.

“Removing free bus travel for young people in London is a punitive measure, which the Tory Government is insisting on simply to cause City Hall unnecessary discomfort. Grant Schapps needs to do the right thing and reverse this decision.  In light of the many pressures that families and councils will be facing due to Covid-19, it is more important than ever that young people in London must be able to travel safely and affordably across the capital.”