Earlier this week the Isle of Wight council announced a new scheme for discounted ferry fares for those on low incomes.
The scheme is available to those who receive Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support. The council estimate the scheme could benefit around 14,000 Islanders. Over 80 have already registered for the scheme.
What are the discounts?
All three cross-Solent ferry companies have agreed to offer varying discounts for those who are eligible. It wasn’t clear in the initial announcement how much that would be but OnTheWight can share the details below:
- Wightlink car ferry – £27.30 each way (business contract rate)
- Red Funnel car ferry – £48 return or 20% discount on the lowest standard Web fare (if cheaper)
- Red Funnel foot passenger – £10 (not RedJet)
- Hovertravel – £12.50 return
All subject to availability.
Lack of privacy with Hovertravel
With Red Funnel and Wightlink, you have to register for the service in advance and are then able to order your tickets online in the privacy of your home or smartphone.
However, for those wishing to use the discounted fares scheme with Hovertravel , you’ll have to take your evidence with you to the terminal when travelling.
Our reader, who preferred to remain anonymous told us,
“Both of the car ferry firms have a system that allows us to register for the discounted fares.
“This means that each time we book we have the choice to use the discount or not and all from the privacy of our own home or smart phone.
“Hover Travel however makes people present proof of their claim, either housing/council tax/unemployment etc benefit at the window for purchase each and every time they want to cross the water.
“I’m sure this will be a bit embarrassing for most and they might not use it.”
Local Democracy Reporter, Megan Baynes, shares this FAQ below in response to questions from Islanders.
Who is going to pay for the scheme?
The ferry companies are leading the discount. There are no costs to the council other than administrative costs. The council is dealing with the initial applications however, the scheme is mainly administered by the ferry companies.
The council has not funded it in any way and no money is being spent on extra resources to deal with the applications.
When someone applies for the discount, the application is sent to the ferry company, who check with the council if the person named is eligible. It’s a ‘very simple’ process.
Who is going to administer the scheme?
The ferry companies are leading the administration of the scheme.
The team who deal with the housing benefit will be checking applications, but no extra resources will be put in to help with the initial flood of applications.
How do you apply?
Through the relevant ferry companies (see their Websites).
Your application is then sent to the council who assess it, and if you are eligible for the discount a code will be automatically applied to your account every time you travel.
Is there a limit on how many times you can travel?
There is no limit and the discount is applied every time. But the scheme will be reviewed by the ferry companies themselves and it’s not clear yet if it’s going to be a set time for the scheme in general.
When it comes round to the end of the financial year and people are re-assessed for benefits this may change if they are eligible.
Applications must be made to the council seven days before travelling, to allow processing time.
What benefits qualify?
You need to be a resident on the Island, claiming local council tax support or housing benefit. You do not have to be the driver of the vehicle for the discount to be valid.
Is it flat rate, or means tested?
Flat rate — anyone in receipt of either benefit is eligible for the discount.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Additions by OnTheWight at the top of the article. Ed
Image: © Tax Rebate