Pensioner Susan Shaw bought a three-year card before the pandemic that government rules meant she couldn’t use – now she is unable to get any cash back or an extension
Image: Susan Shaw)
A pensioner who paid for a three-year Senior Railcard she couldn’t use for 18 months says she has been unfairly denied a refund or extension.
Susan Shaw, 74, said she bought a three-year Senior Railcard before the pandemic.
These cost £70 and give users a third off the price of rail tickets provided they are aged 60 and above. A one-year version costs £30.
But despite paying upfront for the card, Shaw has been unable to use it for 18 months due to the government’s rules of lockdown.
She also has asthma and a compromised immune system, limiting her travel options.
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Shaw said she asked the Rail Delivery Group, which runs the Senior Railcard scheme, for a discount or extension. But it refused.
Other train travellers with season tickets have been eligible for refunds due to the pandemic – but that principle does not seem to apply to Senior Railcard users.
Shaw said: “They have already had my money in an upfront payment for the card, but have lost no money on discounted fares because I haven’t used the thing.
“Us pensioners have cost the state very little during the pandemic.
“We haven’t been furloughed, thereby costing the taxpayer extra money, nor have we been subsidised as some businesses have. The least the government could do is extend the use of our railcards.”
Dennis Reed, director of over-60s group Silver Voices, said the lack of a refund was another government blow to retirees.
Reed said: “Following on from the scrapping of the triple lock, the ending of free TV licences for the over-75s and the threat to free prescriptions for 60–65-year-olds, this is another miserly attack on pensioner incomes.
“Businesses and working people received hundreds of billions in state support during the pandemic, but older people had their shielding support withdrawn at an early stage and have been ignored since then.
“Once again this government is taking older people’s votes for granted.”
A Railcard spokesperson said refunding customers would be too expensive – despite the fact that they could not travel due to a government ban last year
“After careful consideration the government confirmed to us that Railcards will remain non-refundable and will not be extended.
“Refunding or extending Railcards for over 5.1million customers would come at a significant cost to the taxpayer at a time when the focus must be on maintaining rail services to support the country’s recovery from the pandemic.”
Last week the Conservatives confirmed that next year’s state pension increase of up to 8.8% will be scrapped as the triple lock promise is suspended for a year from April 2022.
The move could have meant an extra £880 per pensioner .
State pensioners instead will get an increase of either 2.5% or one tied to inflation – which could be higher.
Free TV licences for the over-75s were finally withdrawn in August this year, affecting hundreds of thousands of UK pensioners.
Free access for this age group was revoked last year, however, a grace period was announced in February due to the pandemic, so anyone who couldn’t afford a TV licence would not get fined.