217 cancelled Passes to be reinstated, but only temporarily
Barnet's Labour councillors have discovered that senior Conservative councillors knew about a plan to change the eligibility criteria of discretionary disabled persons' Freedom Passes, and implement a 'renewal' process based on that change a year ago.
Two representatives of disability group Yass! (Young Autistic Spectrum Socialising), met with Cllr Sachin Rajput, Chair of the Adults & Safeguarding Committee, and Capita representatives in January 2015 "to discuss the many issues raised and the insensitivity, stress and problems it will cause, especially for those with a Lifelong condition."
The outcome of that meeting was a "stay of execution" and all Freedom Passes were reissued for 5 years.
Labour councillors have established that the following course of events took place:
- In 2010 Barnet automatically renewed all non-discretionary (statutory) passes and discretionary passes for 5 years.
- In 2010 the Assisted Travel unit was part of Adults Social Care, but a decision was taken to move it into the Capita CSG contract under the First Contact service.
- Once the Capita CSG contract was in place a proposal was made in January 2015 to restrict the criteria of discretionary passes for some people with mental health issues and autism to only those that also had either epilepsy, mobility problems or who were known to Adults Social Care.
The Council confirmed to Labour councillors on Friday morning that, for some yet to be established reason, the postponed renewal process based on the criteria change proposed a year ago was suddenly put into action at the beginning of 2016.
LB Barnet are reinstating 217 of the 230 cancelled Passes because they had not gone through a proper process with consultation. (The remaining 13 Passes were for people who had either died or moved out of the borough).
Unfortunately the reinstatement will only be temporary as Conservative-run Barnet Council are still planning to review the Freedom Pass eligibility criteria and are keeping the option open of properly implementing a criteria change and renewal process in the future.
Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings said: "While we welcome the reinstatement of all the disabled persons' Freedom Passes, this is a policy change that should never have been considered by the Tories in the first place.
"And having agreed to drop the plans, it is absolutely scandalous to have gone ahead and implement it anyway a year later without any consultation.
"The Tories are trying to make out that only people who had gone through a reassessment had their Pass withdrawn, but I am aware of at least one person who had their Pass cancelled without any medical or reassessment.
"And we also know that many people had their Passes cancelled without any notice whatsoever - some while they were mid-journey.
"The fact that the reinstatement of cancelled Passes is just temporary pending a review of eligibility criteria shows how callous and unrelenting the Tories really are. They always planned to change the criteria, and now they have been caught red-handed.
"The Freedom Passes were renewed until 2020 a year ago, and they should be reinstated on that basis now - not temporarily.
"Any move to restrict the eligibility of these Passes through a review should be abandoned, and I will be moving that at the Policy & Resources Committee on Tuesday night."
1. An extract from the most recent YASS! newsletter follows:
5. Lobbying for better services!
Reinstate Freedom Passes Petition
Children and Young People's Plan 2016- 2020 Consultation
"YASS!, YAASS!, & pp4danBarnet (YYP) appeared to be the only organisation who ‘stuck our necks out’ last January 2015 to raise awareness of the tragedy that will occur following the LB Barnet’s incompetence of reissuing Freedom Passes from April 2015. YYP reported extensively about the pitfalls of the bad handling of the matter and subsequent dealings with those who were supposed to be in charge in our Newsletters at the time. Two of our YYP Parent/Family Carer representatives met with Councillor Rajput (Chairperson Adults and Safeguarding Committee) and Capita representatives to discuss the many issues raised and the insensitivity, stress and problems it will cause, especially for those with a Lifelong condition. It was also queried as to the competence, and experience of those who were going to check if the Lifelong condition was still valid. And YES we all still pray for the miracle that the Lifelong difficulties will disappear overnight! The Outcome of the meeting was a ‘stay of execution’ and all received their Freedom Passes through the post without question, and dated to expire in 5 years time?
"So it comes as no surprise that the debacle has started all over again. Thankfully others have taken up the cause and you too may like to register your voice and objections to once again targeting the most vulnerable in Barnet, those with a Lifelong condition, who have to be humiliated and prove themselves over and over again to get a service where the criteria has not changed for several years. Visit: http://www.barnetlabour.org.uk/reinstate_disabled_persons_freedom_passes
"The way this matter is being handled contradicts the statement made on Item 42 - Barnet Council’s Consultation draft vision is that: 'They want Barnet to be the most 'Family Friendly' borough in London by 2020. Children, Young People and their families are safe, healthy, resilient, knowledgeable, responsible, informed and listened to.’ YASS!, YAASS!, & pp4danBarnet is apolitical and owes no allegiance to any political party. YYP will support any cause that tries to maintain, or improve the quality of life, Safeguarding, Health & WellBeing of vulnerable Barnet Residents."
2. The Labour Group have put the cancellation of Freedom Passes on the agenda of this Tuesday's Policy & Resources Committee (17 May):
3. To sign the Labour Group's petition to get automatic renewal of Freedom Passes where there is no change in an individual's condition:
4. For a copy of the eligbility criteria for non-discretionary (statutory) disabled persons' Freedom Passes, which does not include mental health or autism unless you also fit the statutory criteria - see: http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/services/freedom-pass/disabled-persons-freedom-pass/eligibility
5. An article from 'Transport for All' explains that mental health users receive their Freedom Pass under the discretionary system, and that Barnet does not offer a discretionary pass:
6. Examples of one council that issues discretionary passes to those with mental health (Richmond) and one that doesn't (Merton):
For more information contact:
Cllr Barry Rawlings: cllr.b.rawlings
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568