State pension increases could leave Britons waiting years for a free bus pass | Personal finance | Finance

The statutory retirement age, which is currently 66, is expected to reach 70 within the next 18 years. This could leave many Britons not only eager to retire, but also waiting longer to receive certain rights that may seem out of reach.

Some entitlements in the UK, such as free NHS prescriptions and bus passes, come with an age requirement.

For free bus passes in some parts of the country, this means having reached the legal retirement age.

This age is constantly reviewed, usually influenced by general UK life expectancy figures.

Free bus passes are available to Britons in England through the State Pension and allow them free bus travel around the country.

However, London, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland offer free bus passes to their residents over the age of 60.

Britons who meet the qualification criteria can apply for the scheme on the government website where they will be put in touch with their local councils.

Free bus passes are usually distributed by local councils, with Britons advised to check with them for the exact eligibility criteria and application process.

Additionally, the postcode and age checker on the website can show when one can expect to be eligible for the bus pass.


This card scheme provides for the cardholder and additional free travel for companions if required for eligible disabled persons of any age.

In addition, a new program in Scotland allows young people aged 5 to 21 to travel for free on the bus.

The Northern Ireland SmartPass system is available to people aged 60 and over who are permanent residents of Northern Ireland.

Two different passes are available in this system, the first for those aged 60 to 64 and the Senior SmartPass for those aged 65 and over.

Anyone wishing to apply for their first SmartPass is advised not to apply more than six weeks before their 60th birthday.

Proof of residency is also required when applying for SmartPass.

The disparity in age requirements between different countries stems from the link with the statutory retirement age.

Since the free bus pass and the state pension age are linked in England, as the state pension age increases the age required for the passes free buses will also increase.

Current estimates show that the state pension could reach 67% by 2028, with further increases looming in the future.

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