The Government’s plans for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) to supersede the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) have implications for disabled and older people’s eligibility for transport benefits.
You can read Transport for All’s full response to the consultation here – if you are a member and would like your views to be included in our response, please contact us by 26th September. Below is a summary of the proposed changes and our response. You can view and respond to DfT’s full consultation, and view and respond to other consultations on accessible transport, on the Consultations section of our webpage here.
Automatic eligibility and mobility assessments
Receiving Higher Rate Mobility Component of DLA is currently one of the eligibility criteria for a Blue Badge. The Department for Transport is currently consulting on how eligibility for a Blue Badge should be managed when PIP replaces DLA. At the moment, people who are not automatically eligible under these criteria can receive a Blue Badge if a mobility assessor, employed by the local council, assesses them and finds that they have severe difficulty in walking. The options that the Government is looking at are:
- No link between receiving PIP and qualifying for a Blue Badge – i.e. all Blue Badge eligibility should be determined by a mobility assessment.
- A link between receiving the Enhanced Mobility Rate Component of PIP and qualifying for a Blue Badge. This would mean that people with a total of 12 points or more from both Activity 10 section of PIP (relating to the ability to follow a journey) and Activity 11 section of PIP (Moving Around) would qualify – i.e. some people with mental and behavioural conditions such as autism that make it difficult for them to travel longer distances would qualify, even if their physical mobility was unimpaired.
- A link between the Moving Around section of PIP and eligibility for a Blue Badge – i.e. people who scored more than 8 on this section would automatically qualify for a Blue Badge. This would mean eligibility would relate to physical mobility alone and people with more severe cognitive impairments alone would not qualify.
‘Not disabled enough’
Transport for All believes that at present, many disabled and older people who find walking between car and destination painful and difficult do not qualify for a Blue Badge, because they have a variable condition and the mobility assessor sees them on a ‘good day’; or because the mobility assessor, whether from ignorance or under pressure to save a council money, deems them to be ‘not disabled enough’. Without a Blue Badge, these people choose not to make outings, and become housebound or semi-housebound. This is one of the reasons for the unequal position of disabled people in almost all spheres of public life, including work, family life and leisure opportunities; and the loneliness and exclusion faced by many older people.
Below are some advocacy cases that we have recently dealt with which convince us that at the moment, non-automatic eligibility for Blue Badge under assessment tends to be too narrowly restricted. Names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.
Mr Jones is a 65 year old man with long term mobility impairment. He has heart disease and had a quadruple bypass surgery and had three stents inserted though his leg to his heart. Mr Jones can only walk for a short distance before he runs out of breath. Refused Blue Badge. Successful appeal but only valid for one year.
Stacey is a nine year old girl who has Sickle-cell disease (SCD), and has many other medical issues as a result. She can only walk for a short distance before she runs out of breath and suffers severe pain. Refused Blue Badge
Muzammal is a seven year old boy who has severe autism and his parent finds it impossible to travel with him on public transport. Because of the severity of his autism, travelling on buses, tube or trains is very distressing and he runs off, drops to the floor unexpectedly and refuses to walk.He requires 24/7 care and attention and needs access to the family vehicle so he can be driven immediately and quickly to hospital if he injures himself. Refused Blue Badge.
Mr Featherton is 73 year old man with long term mobility impairment. He has heart disease and had a heart surgery and a tube put through his leg to his heart. Mr Featherton can only walk for a short distance before he runs out of breath. He also has a constant pain on his right leg as a result of the surgery. Refused Blue Badge.
Mr. Refaeli was born with a severe and rare epileptic condition called SMEI (Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy in Infancy). This is a very rare form of childhood epilepsy. His speech and language are severely affected and Mr. Refaeli’s requires 24/7 care attention as he can have up to 100 fits daily. Refused Blue Badge.
Transport for All has urged the Department of Transport to allow people to qualify for a Blue Badge under Option 1 and Option 2. We believe that everyone who receives the enhanced rate mobility component of PIP should automatically be eligible for a Blue Badge, as well as those who score 8 or more on the Moving Around section of PIP.
Option 2 on its own would exclude people with cognitive impairments that severely undermine their ability to walk from A to B. Option 3 on its own would exclude some people whose physical mobility is impaired but who score less than 8 points on the Moving Around section of PIP: e.g. people who can move up to 50 metres unaided but no further; or people who can move up to 50 metres with an aid such as crutches, a walking frame or a stick but with pain and difficulty.
More Blue Badge spaces
We recognise that widening eligibility criteria in this way will result in more Blue Badge holders seeking a limited number of parking spaces, and would like to see an increase in the number of Blue Badge parking spaces, especially in inner London boroughs. In inner London, the limits placed on Blue Badge parking are a perennial source of frustration among Blue Badge holders and prevent us from enjoying much of what central London has to offer.
There is a cost implication to our proposed eligibility criteria as a result of lower parking revenues. However, it is widely documented that the exclusion of disabled people from public life because of the difficulties of getting out and about has an economic cost. When walking is painful, difficult or unsafe, disabled and older people are more likely to opt to stay at home and get out and about less frequently. When disabled people are excluded from getting a job and paying taxes, and so are forced to claim benefits; when we cannot get to the doctor or optician and so have to have healthcare at home; when we cannot do our own shopping and have to get Meals on Wheels; when we get housebound, isolated and depressed and have to use NHS mental health services – there is a net cost the taxpayer.
Therefore TfA believe that the economic and social benefits of eligibility for the Blue Badge under Option 2 and Option 3 outweigh the costs. In order to achieve the Government’s 2025 targets for disability equality, the Government must ensure that the barriers that prevent people from getting out and about are removed.