£2m announced for free bus travel for asylum seekers
A £2m fund has been announced to support free bus travel for asylum seekers in Scotland, the Scottish Government has confirmed.
Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie – who is a government minister under the Bute House Agreement between his party and the SNP – announced the policy at his party conference at the weekend.
The government said it will “continue to progress” the policy, to find the “most appropriate way” to extend it to people seeking asylum.
Harvie said: “I’m delighted that the Scottish Government will continue to progress work with partners in the third sector and local government to seek to make free bus travel available to people seeking asylum in Scotland.
“I hope that together we can help create new opportunities, protect our climate and reduce financial barriers for the people who need it most, right across the country.”
The pledge was included in last year’s programme for government. It said the government would “work with third sector partners and local authorities to consider how best to provide free bus travel to asylum seekers and refugees”.
No mention was made of the policy in the most recent programme for government.
The £2m will be set out in the draft budget 2024-25, which will be announced on 19 December. MSPs will vote on the subsequent legislation early next year.
The announcement was welcomed by Scottish Labour. MSP Paul Sweeney, who has been campaigning for the policy, said: “This welcome if overdue announcement is the result of years of hard work by third sector campaigners… The SNP-Green government must deliver this as a matter of urgency and look at what other levers we can use to help asylum seekers.”