Why Barnet Council must bring management of the Freedom Pass in-house

Barnet Labour Councillor, Paul Edwards, made the following intervention in the discussion on Freedom Passes at last night's Policy & Resources Committee:

"I want to share an example of one case in my ward of a 50 year old man with learning difficulties still living with his family and who has been in receipt of a Freedom Pass since he was 18.

He received two letters from Assisted Travel both dated 13 April 2016.

The first letter, says “Thank you for your application for a Disabled Freedom Pass", and the second letter says "Renewal of Your Disabled Freedom Pass:  your appeal regarding the renewal of your freedom pass is not upheld because you must be registered with the Barnet Council Learning Disabilities Team……I would like to emphasise that the decision is final and the matter is closed.”

Both of these letters do not have any named officer, nor a specific telephone number or email of a named officer and neither have been signed.

I did a search of the websites of LB Barnet, London Councils and the Transport Act 2000, all state the 7 categories of disability for a mandatory travel concession, but none say my constituent must be ‘registered with the Learning Disabilities Team'.

When I clicked on “Renew my Disabled Freedom Pass” on the LB Barnet website I arrived at “Page Not Found” (THIS HAS NOW BEEN REMOVED AND YOU NOW HAVE TO WAIT UP TO 5 DAYS FOR AN ELECTRONIC RESPONSE!)

Not only is this man being made to prove he is known to the Learning Disabilities Team even though there is no published requirement to do so, he can’t even renew his pass on line.  What’s he meant to do?

In relation to the two letters, until it can be proved otherwise I contend that the decisions to stop his Freedom Pass and refuse his appeal have been taken by the same person, and in so doing has denied his human right to an appeal against a decision taken against him by someone in authority independent of the first decision maker.

I welcome the Leader's contention that we have a duty of care and that “of course those with a life long condition should have a pass.”

The manner in which the disabled have been treated by officers of Capita has seriously damaged the reputation of the Council.

The answer to question 30 of the public questions states “The management of the Freedom Passes was not part of the (CSG) contract, but when the renewals came to light, Capita were asked to carry out the renewals process on the Council’s behalf."  If the work is not part of the core contract I call on the council to bring this work back in house to restore confidence and fairness towards our disabled residents."

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