Blue badges allow disabled people to park nearer to services that they want to use. Blue badge holders can park in places that other people can’t and sometimes get free or discounted parking.
In early 2019 the blue badge scheme will be extended to include people with ‘hidden disabilities’, such as people who are autistic, have a learning disability, dementia or a mental illness.
In England, some people, who are aged 2 or over will automatically qualify for a badge (but will still need to apply). These include:
- people who get disability living allowance (DLA) high rate mobility
- people who have scored 8 points or more in the ‘moving around’ activity within the mobility component of personal independence payment (PIP)
- people who are registered blind
- people who get war pensioners’ mobility supplement
- people who have received a lump sum payment from the Armed Forces Compensation scheme (within tariff levels 1-8)
- special rules apply if you have a child under the age of 3. You can get a blue badge if your child has a specific medical condition which means they; must always be accompanied by bulky medical equipment which cannot be carried around with the child without great difficulty and/ or they need to be kept near a motor vehicle at all times so that they can, if necessary, be treated in the vehicle or quickly driven to a place where they can be treated.
Other people will need to apply on discretionary grounds through the ‘assessed rate’. This means that, the case will be decided on an individual basis. The guidance states that people may qualify if they have a permanent and substantial disability which means they are unable to walk or they have very considerable difficulty in walking.
The assessor will take into consideration how far someone can walk, and how they are affected by walking, amongst other things. The bar is set quite high so not all people with mobility issues will get a badge. However it’s always worth looking into and thinking about making an application.
People who drive regularly, and have a severe disability in both arms and are unable to operate (or have considerable difficulty operating) all or some types of parking meter may also qualify. This would be decided on a discretionary basis so each case would be looked at individually.
The Government has announced that the eligibility criteria for the blue badge scheme will be changing to include those with ‘hidden disabilities’. This will benefit eligible people who are autistic, have a learning disability, dementia or a mental illness.
The changes will come into effect in early 2019 and follow consultation that took place in January 2018.See the full list of changes here
You can apply for a blue badge in Bristol on the council website.
You can apply for a blue badge in South Gloucestershire on the council website.
Make sure you complete the form with plenty of detail and read the guidance that goes with the form. If the person you care for has letters and reports from the GP, consultant or other professionals it would help to send them in with the application. Letters stating problems with walking and mobility will all help. There is no guarantee that the council will contact anyone the person you care for sees.
As a carer you could send in a letter describing the difficulties you encounter when out with the person that you care for. Things you might want to consider include:
- if you cannot park near where you need to go the effect this has
- how you have to support the person when you are out e.g. do you have to offer physical support?
- do you have to push them in a wheelchair?
- do you have to watch them in case they wander or have little road sense?
One of the things they will particularly look at is the distance that someone can walk. It’s important not to guess the distance and not to overestimate. Think about the distance someone can walk without pain, exhaustion, or breathlessness. If someone can walk a certain distance but suffers afterwards, it is questionable whether they really can do this. Think about how far they can walk before suffering after effects or symptoms at the time as this may be a better indication of the distance they can walk.
The Department for Transport has produced guidance about blue badges for local councils. There is a lot of information in the guidance and it could be worth reading if you have a query on a particular issue. If the person you care for is applying on discretionary grounds, you could read section 4.4 which gives information about how people are assessed if they don’t meet one of the ways of automatically qualifying.
The person you care for may be asked to attend an independent assessment if they have applied on discretionary grounds. Their walking ability would then be assessed to establish whether they will meet the criteria for a badge. Feedback we receive suggests that these assessments are not happening in all cases and that sending in information to support the application really helps.
If your local authority does not issue a blue badge, there is no formal right of appeal. However it is worth writing to request that the decision is reconsidered. You may be able to send in more information at this stage.