Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Passing Verdict on Free Deal for Elderly

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Passing Verdict on Free Deal for Elderly

Article excerpt

An offer of free passports for pensioners has had a mixed response on Teesside.

Free passports are now available for elderly people in a plan announced by Home Secretary David Blunkett in recognition of sacrifices made by Second World War veterans and civilians.

Every British citizen born on or before September 2, 1929, from this week no longer has to pay for a UK passport. About four and a half million people will receive free passports for life.

But Nora Sadler, who chairs the Stockton branch of the Cleveland Pensioners Convention, has a mixed reaction to the move. Although she welcomes the free passports for "the few that can use them", Nora says many older people can't or won't make use of one due to illness or lack of cash to travel.

She said: "A lot of pensioners have never had the means or wherewithal to travel. They may be in nursing or care homes, housebound or widowed.

"Instead of free passports, older people would rather see an end to means testing and for free public transport introduced and a cost of living rise to our pensions. …

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