Blue Badge Issues
The Blue Badge scheme was started in 1971 as part of The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, and provided parking concessions for people who were eligible. More recent changes have included giving badges for those with ‘hidden disabilities’ which is a necessary development, given the improvements in our understanding of how neurological differences can impact people’s lives.
Here is an extract from the long GOV.UK section on Blue Badges which explains how changes were made :
‘4.93 Independent research conducted on behalf of the DfT (Department forTransport) in 2019 involved in-depth engagement with expert medical advisors, local authority Blue Badge teams, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), and disabled people’s representative groups. Potential processes for determining eligibility were considered and a consensus view developed, based on the expert advice available and insights into current local authority practices for determining eligibility of predominantly non-visible (‘hidden’) walking disabilities.’
Have these changes worked ? A WNDiS client had sent his autism diagnosis with his application for a Blue Badge which included a detailed account of his social anxiety, and he was turned down. He was not sure how to get more medical information which he needed to ‘qualify’ for a review of the decision. Scope have a case study with an alarmingly rude assessors’ remark about an applicant, ‘not being that autistic’ because she could drive. Some WNDiS clients have posted their frustrating experience of applying for a Blue Badge on the website, and what is clear is that they feel they have to fight unnecessarily hard to get a Blue Badge.
Another client battled for a year with the help of a local and county councillor to get a Blue Badge even though he had PIP enhanced mobility, just not the section which would give automatic qualification.
The system changes, begun in 2014, had a strong focus on ‘abuse’ of the system and not enough on providing the service. There is no requirement to provide appeals against decisions and many people, who obviously go under the radar, give up if they are turned down. Although the number of Blue Badges issued locally has remained more or less stable over the last few years, and WNDiS no doubt hears more about the problems than the successes, more debate on local systems and processes and how they affect ‘genuine’ applicants would be very welcome.