Update: Blue Badge eligibility is to be extended to some people with non-physical impairments.
The new law comes into force on 30 August 2019.
This article is now archived.
Last month, the government launched a public consultation on the future reform of the Blue Badge scheme. Transport for All received a lot of feedback from our members and supporters, which we included in our final response to this important reform.
The Government is proposing to widen eligibility for the Blue Badge scheme to enable more people with non-physical and with invisible impairments to apply. The Blue Badge enables a Disabled driver or a person driving a passenger holding a badge to park nearer to where they are going. Two and a half million Disabled people are using it.
The Government’s proposals include:
- Enlarging the eligibility criteria by adding to the ‘without further assessment’ section under PIP, those who get 12 points for ‘planning and Following Journeys’.
- Rewording of the criteria for the assessment of those who don’t automatically qualify, in order to be more inclusive.
Removing the requirement for an assessor to be ‘independent’, allowing a range of healthcare professionals (other than the applicant’s GP) to undertake an assessment.
Transport for All is largely supportive of the proposed changes; but we also have a few concerns.
Enlarging the eligibility criteria
The extension of the eligibility criteria is very welcome. The proposal plans to extend the eligibility to any person unable to:
- Walk, or who has considerable difficulties walking;
- Undertake any journey without a risk of very considerable harm to themselves or any other person;
- Follow the route without the support of another person, assistance animal or cane or other orientation aid.
Currently, you can get a Blue Badge if you get 8 points on the ‘Moving Around’ descriptor for PIP (Personal Independence Payment).Under the new proposal, the government is looking at extending the eligibility criteria to those who get 12 points under another descriptor of the PIP: ‘Planning and Following Journeys’.This move is very welcome, but we think that it would be fairer to set the eligibility at 8 points instead of the 12 points mentioned, as this score is very difficult to reach.The whole purpose of this reform is to ensure that “Blue Badge scheme should not discriminate in principle between physical and non-physical disabilities” and we think that this is an important issues in ensuring that there is no discrimination.
Removing the need for assessors to be independent
In its proposal, the government is proposing to remove the need to use a fully ‘independent’ assessor, as part of the eligibility process, where an applicant does not meet the ‘automatic’ criteria. They now want to allow a range of healthcare professionals (other than the applicant’s GP) to undertake an assessment.We welcome this proposal. We feel that the applicant should be able to choose the eligibility assessor, for example a medical consultant.
We also took the opportunity of this consultation to raise various concerns and issues from our members.
- Capacity issue: We feel that there are too few disabled parking spaces in London. Local authorities need to encourage an increase in the number of disabled parking spaces, and areas where Blue Badge holders can park.
- Enforcement and Education: Some members acknowledge the fact that there has been a greater effort over the last couple of years to enforce the correct use of Blue Badges. But some Blue Badge users (especially those with invisible impairments) are still being aggressively challenged. We think that more needs to be done to educate traffic management staff and the public.
- Card Design: A small but significant number of Blue Badge users have contacted us after having been fined because they put the card the wrong way up. We suggest that regulations should be changed so that, provided it is visible, either side of the Blue Badge should be valid. Both sides offer indeed the same information: the expiry date and number.
- Central London (Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and part of Camden): Finally we argue that there should be a review of the greater restrictions and rules that apply in parts of central London. Traffic congestion and overcrowding of public transport emphasises the need for the scheme in these areas: Disabled People find crowded public transport is even less accessible; and aggressive competition for parking space emphasises the need for places for Disabled people to park.