It has been confirmed that changes to the eligibility criteria for the Blue Badge scheme will come into effect on 30th August 2019.
Following a consultation in 2018 the government announced that it will be extending the Blue Badge eligibility criteria to include people with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as dementia, autism and a number of mental health conditions. The new legislation has now been confirmed and after the 30th August 2019 people with ‘hidden’ disabilities will find it easier to obtain a Blue Badge.
From this date the assessed criteria will now be that a person who has been certified by an expert assessor as having an enduring and substantial disability which causes them, during the course of a journey, to—
(i) be unable to walk;
(ii) experience very considerable difficulty whilst walking, which may include very considerable psychological distress; or
(iii) be at risk of serious harm when walking; or pose, when walking, a risk of serious harm to any other person;
The legislation also removes the requirement of an ‘independent mobility assessor’ and is replaced by the term ‘expert assessor’
Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK) took part in the consultation in 2018 and raised concerns over the possible effect the expansion would have on already limited disabled parking. DMUK urged the Department for Transport (DfT) to be realistic in its thinking. Just extending the criteria will not necessarily mean that more disabled people will benefit. Actually this change may have disastrous consequences for all Blue Badge holders, especially wheelchair users, as there is simply not enough parking to meet demand and concessions could soon disappear because of increased numbers.
Many organisations have welcomed this change. There is no argument that people with hidden disabilities will benefit from having a Blue Badge and DMUK also supports this. However, the increase in demand may undermine the entire scheme and render it not fit for purpose. The end result may mean it will let down the people it was originally intended to help as well as disabled people with hidden disabilities.
DMUK advised the DfT to consider proper enforcement of the scheme before it looked to extend the scheme. The charity predicts that when number of Blue Badge holders increases from August 2019 we will be contacted more and more by disabled people who find their Blue Badge completely meaningless as they will be unable to find adequate parking because it will be so oversubscribed.
DMUK implores all local authorities and private parking operators to prepare for the change properly, review their disabled parking provision and stress the importance that they all enforce disabled parking properly so that these bays are kept free only for genuine Blue Badge holders. If this is not achieved the Blue Badge scheme could soon lose all of its integrity.
DMUK CEO, Graham Footer commented: “DMUK works to support the mobility of disabled people and there is no dispute that people with certain mental health conditions and cognitive disabilities could benefit from having a Blue Badge. However, the charity is very concerned that from August onwards numbers of Blue Badge holders will dramatically increase which will put more pressure on limited disabled parking which is poorly enforced and in some areas of the country not enforced at all. We are asking that all local authorities and private operators review their disabled parking provision now, before the change comes into force to make sure that they can manage increased demand.”
Disabled Motoring UK
Disabled Motoring UK is the national charity which supports disabled drivers, passengers and Blue Badge holders. We work with government and businesses to improve parking, refuelling and access provision for disabled people, so that they can access the goods and services that they need. Disabled Motoring UK is not just an organisation for disabled motorists; we also campaign for and support scooter and wheelchair users, families and carers.
The charity is a membership organisation and membership subscriptions is what the charity relies on to continue its work. Full members receive a monthly magazine, access to our information service and discounts on variety of good s and services.
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Communications and Campaigns Director