The Liberal Democrats will today launch their pre-manifesto with a policy of subsidised bus passes for 16-21 year olds in England if the party is elected next May.
The pledge, which will cost around £500m a year, will be part subsidised by abolishing free TV licenses and winter fuel payments for pensioners in households paying the higher rate of tax.
Bus passes for elderly people, a spokesman for the party confirmed yesterday, would remain untouched.
Launching the policy, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said: “I know there are people who say you mustn’t touch so-called universal pensioner benefits because politically it’s too risky. We don’t agree: what are effectively benefits for the rich and retired cannot be justified when there are so many young people struggling to get on their feet.”
Those aged between 16-21 would be eligible for the discounted rate, likely around 66 per cent of travel cost, and issued with a Young Person’s Bus Pass.
The party hopes the move could win back favour with young voters. Many students remain angry with Clegg for failing to rein back university tuition fees, having pledged to scrap the fees.