Dozens of disabled people wrongly rejected for free travel pass by London borough

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

Dozens of Londoners with disabilities are set to receive an apology after their applications for a free travel pass were wrongly rejected.

An investigation by Newham council found that its staff had incorrectly told 42 of the 238 people who have applied for a Disabled Person's Freedom Pass since April last year that they were not eligible.

The town hall said it is issuing the cards, which allow free travel across the Tube, Overground and national bus network, along with apology letters.

At a meeting on Tuesday night councillors are also set to sign off a retrospective review of unsuccessful applications as far back as 2013 to assess if they are in line with the council's new Disabled Freedom Pass policy.

It follows a complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman earlier this year by a man who was wrongly rejected for a travel pass while awaiting a hip replacement.

The ombudsman found that the way the town hall carried out its evaluations was not in line with guidance and ordered it pay the unnamed Londoner £400 in compensation.

Newham town hall said: "This is an example of where the council got it wrong and is accompanied by a resolute commitment to ensure this it does not happen again.

"We would like to extend an unreserved apology to the complainant for our mishandling of their case, recognising the resulting undue hardships he has endured.

"In addition to the apology we would like to offer, we would also like to add our sincere thanks to the complainant for championing and persevering in their pursuit of resolution of this issue, which has resulted in a significant review of our eligibility policy for all residents.

"The Council wholeheartedly embraces the conclusions of the Ombudsman's report and is steadfast in its dedication to promptly implementing the recommendations."

Under current rules people aged over 65 are entitled to concessionary travel, as well as any passenger a local authority decides is disabled.

Newham council added: "The 42 Residents that have been identified as eligible will be issued a Disabled Freedom Pass and a letter of apology. The remaining 145 applicants are believed to have been administrated correctly, however, we will contact them to inform our policy has been updated and include the eligibility criteria and they will be invited to reapply if they believe they now meet the requirements.

"Furthermore, a proactive approach is being taken to surpass the Ombudsman’s recommendations by reconsidering all previously rejected Disabled Freedom Pass applications, spanning both pre and post-22/23, with a historical review extending back to 2013."