Freedom Pass Furore

Merton Liberal Democrats are disappointed at councillors' refusal to reinstate Freedom Passes for those with mental health conditions.

Funding for the Passes was cut by the Council's Labour administration in 2011 despite fierce opposition by the borough's Liberal Democrat councillors.

The motion, submitted by Cllr Mary-Jane Jeanes, noted that ". . . isolation and loneliness are detrimental to people's health; those with mental health issues, who no longer receive a discretionary Freedom Pass and cannot afford to attend support groups or meet friends or family, are at increased risk of isolation." It also highlighted the underspend of over £1million in the Adult Social Care budget for 2013/14 from which the Pass could be funded.

During her speech to the full Council meeting on 10th September 2014, Cllr Jeanes argued that the move was a fiscally responsible one, describing it as "a small investment which will help us save money in the long run".

"By supporting people's independence now," she remarked, "less residents' Council Tax will be needed to combat the effects of isolation and depression later on."

However, not a single other councillor - either from the Labour administration, the Tory opposition, or the Merton Park Residents Association - was prepared to second the motion. As a result, it wasn't even debated, let alone passed, meaning that this cruel cut will continue to affect some of Merton's most vulnerable residents.

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