The service is 'funded by Merseytravel and operated by Stagecoach'. A number of late-night services are also funded by Merseytravel. They used to use a different first digit on the route number, but that seems to have stopped.
If I remember correctly, if the big boys can't make a commercial venture of a route that Merseytravel deems is required (and that might only be part of the day), then they have to make up the losses for the operator. The fare is then also lower, too, as this is set by Merseytravel for that service.
They don't seem to use the word 'subsidy' anywhere, but that seems to be what it is.
Nothing to do with Income Support, but you might qualify for a travel pass due to age of disability though.
Merseytravel subsidised services are usually a three figure digit starting with a 1 [eg 106, 110, 145, 181 etc.]. Some though do start with a 2 [eg 208, 219 286 etc.]. All thses services have a flat rate fare of £1.20 for adults and 50p for 5-15 year olds.
Operators like Stagecoach and Arriva can take a subsidised service commercial. Avon did it with the 186 and 187. Now numbered 86 and 87. There are a few other examples. Bus operators will do this is they think a service is commercially reliable, thus keeping all the revenue for themselves.