Information from London Councils obtained by the Labour Group in a Freedom of Information request shows that 2,008 disabled persons Freedom Passes have been cancelled in the last year in Barnet - 1,422 more than Barnet council reported to Policy & Resources Committee (P&R) two weeks ago.
Barnet council had cancelled Freedom Passes for adults with mental health issues and other disabilities like autism without giving any notice, with many people discovering for the first time that their Pass had been cancelled while trying to use public transport. Others had their Pass cancelled as a result of a reassessment, despite there being no change in their condition.
The Council had reported to P&R in answers to public questions that:
"207 residents have been assessed as no longer qualifying for Freedom Passes, who held one in the year ending 31 March 2016. These relate to those who were retrospectively checked as part of those passes expiring in March 2015."
"An additional 379 residents have also been assessed as no longer qualifying for Freedom Passes in relation to the eligibility assessment process for those expiring in March 2016.
"Passes were only cancelled if residents did not meet the criteria as set out within the council’s process, a request was sent to London Councils to cancel the Freedom Pass.
An investigation into the Council's 'renewal' process for disabled persons' Freedom Passes is due to come back to P&R, with all Passes temporarily reinstated until then.
Cllr Reema Patel said: “It is extremely worrying that nearly 1,500 more Passes seem to have been cancelled than Barnet council have actually reported.
"This latest information reinforces our belief that the Assisted Travel unit must be removed from the Capita CSG contract and brought back in-house.
"We have asked for a response from the Council on these figures from London Councils, and are also seeking assurances that the Council has now reinstated all cancelled Passes, as our information on Friday was that this would not be completed until this week."
1. An extract from Cllr Patel's FoI request to London Councils follows:
Q2) I am requesting figures (statistics) of the number of disabled people whose freedom passes have been cancelled or rendered invalid within the last year in the Borough of Barnet within the last year (May 2015 - May 2016).
A2. There have been 2,008 disabled/discretionary disabled cards cancelled across 1,779 different holders for Barnet Council between 01/05/2015 and 31/04/2016.
2. A copy of Barnet council's answers to public questions can be found here (see Q4 and Q14):
For more information contact Cllr Reema Patel: firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568