Blue badges

From the 30th August 2019, the Blue Badge scheme has been extended to include people with ‘hidden disabilities’, such as  people who are autistic, have a learning disability, dementia or a mental illness. Find out more from Disability Rights UK.   The amendment regulations set out the new rules.

The new criteria includes people who:

  • cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health and safety, or that of any other person
  • cannot undertake a journey without it causing them considerable psychological distress
  • have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking)

Who can get one?
How do you apply?
How can I help the application succeed?
What happens after the application form has been sent in?
What if the application is turned down?

Who can get one?

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.
  • Entitlement to the Blue badge is now extended to those who score 10 points under the “planning and following journey’s” activity on the grounds that they cannot undertake any journey because it would cause them overwhelming psychological distress.

Other people will need to apply on discretionary grounds through the ‘assessed route’. 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 Department of Transport has produced detailed guidance about Blue Badges for local authorities which has some useful information.

How do you apply?

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.

How can I help the application succeed? 

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 on you and the cared for person
  • 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.

What happens after the application form has been sent in? 

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.

What if the application is turned down?

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.