Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 18:52 UK

Freedom Pass taken off woman with learning disabilities

Yvonne Chappell
Ms Chappell said she was upset by the council's decision

A woman with learning disabilities has been stripped of her free travel pass after a west London council said that her IQ was too high for her to qualify.

Yvonne Chappell, 39, has had a Freedom Pass for 10 years but Hounslow Council turned down her renewal application.

The west London council said its ruling was based on a letter from her GP but said it was willing to review the case.

Campaign group Transport for All said some councils were "disenfranchising" vulnerable people to cut costs.

Fresh disability evidence

In a letter seen by BBC London, Ms Chappell's GP wrote: "I have never done an IQ score on Yvonne. I do not have any details of her learning disability on record."

For the first time local councils have been given the responsibility to issue the more than one million Freedom Passes in use in London.

Some of the capital's 32 boroughs are renewing all passes for five years, but others, like Hounslow Council, are reassessing the disabilities of the applicants.

Ms Chappell, from Hounslow, said: "I'm quite upset, because it's quite expensive to get around these days."

Campaigners criticise pass denial

A Hounslow Council statement said applicants were being asked to "provide fresh or recent evidence of their disability to ensure continuing eligibility for the scheme".

"The decision taken to refuse Ms Chappell's application for a Freedom Pass was based on information provided by her GP at the time, which indicated that she did not meet the required criteria.

"We would be happy to review the decision in light of any new information."

Faryal Velmi, from Transport for All, said: "If a disabled person, whatever their impairment, has been using a Freedom Pass and then denied a Freedom Pass, quite likely they will be isolated, they may even become housebound and that will then have a rebound cost on local authorities."

A statement from the Department for Transport said: "Legislation does not specify an IQ test as part of the assessment of eligibility for a disabled person applying for concessionary travel.

"Our guidance says that the local authority should seek independent medical evidence to inform their decision."



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