Press release

Publication of DWP research report 'Active at 60: local evaluation research'

Research shows that encouraging older people to apply for smart cards and passes online can save money and improve services.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Research published today by the Department for Work and Pensions shows that encouraging older people to apply for smart cards and passes online can save money and improve services. The findings are based on a pilot of smart card technology in two local authorities.

The report also looks at how older people can become more active and engaged in their communities by using smart cards to extend the range of services and concessions they are entitled to.

Some key findings are:

  • Active at 60 Local pilots raised a number of important questions about the role and future of the smart card.
  • The urban pilot project demonstrated the feasibility and value of introducing an online portal for registration. Local authorities could benefit from more efficient processing of applications, and service users were able to navigate both the application and online identity checking processes.
  • Benefits to local authorities of using online technology included a more efficient application system, estimated at saving over £30,000 if 10,000 card holders renew online rather than visiting council offices in the urban pilot project area.
  • They can also benefit from the opportunity to provide more targeted communications.
  • Awareness levels about the ‘smart’ nature of the cards were low. In the urban pilot area, older people saw the smart card primarily as a bus pass.
  • The pilot highlighted the challenges of using a smart card to increase levels of community engagement and physical activity without significant incentives.

Notes to Editors

  1. ‘Active at 60: Local evaluation research: Final report’ is available at
  2. The research is part of the Government’s Ageing Society Programme which aims to address the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population. See
  3. The research focused on use of an all-in-one smart card to leverage interest and uptake of a wide range of entitlements, services and concessions for people aged 60 and over, such as community services and leisure facilities.
  4. Research was carried out in two Local Authority pilot areas, one in an urban area and one in a rural area. While the rural area did not complete the pilot it still provided evidence about the challenges of setting up a smart card model. The projects built on existing technology in use by the local authorities.
  5. Accompanying the research is a business case to encourage local authorities to adopt this approach.
  6. An evidence review of other authorities’ use of smart card technology was published in May 2011 at
Published 26 January 2012