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The Blue Badge Scheme: An AccessAble Guide

AccessAble are delighted to launch a new blog series with accessible motoring expert Helen Dolphin, answering your questions on Blue Badges, parking and motoring. This month we’re focussing on the Blue Badge scheme.

So, a little bit about me… I became disabled in my early 20s when I contracted meningococcal septicaemia and lost all four of my limbs. Although I can walk a little bit, I mainly use a wheelchair. I have a Motability car and I drive all over the UK for work and pleasure. I love travelling and have been lucky enough to visit most of Europe, India, Australia and America. I have an assistance dog called Fairport and a three-year-old son.

Since becoming disabled I’ve been passionate about improving transport for disabled people. I currently work for lots of different organisations to ensure the needs of disabled people are met. These include the Department for Transport where I chair the personal mobility working group for the Disabled Person’s Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) where I sit on the consumer panel, Heathrow airport where I co-chair the Accessibility and Access Group and East Midlands Trains where I also chair their access group. I also run a parking accreditation company called People’s Parking which is helping to drive up standards in the industry and help consumers, including disabled people, find their ideal car park.

The Blue Badge Scheme

If you have an impairment that makes walking difficult, or you have an invisible impairment such as dementia, autism or Parkinson's, you may qualify for a Blue Badge to help you park closer to the places you want to go.  It doesn’t matter if you are a driver or a passenger you can still use your Blue Badge to access a range of parking concessions, including parking in designated bays for Blue Badge holders. To find out more about qualifying for a Blue Badge and where you can park visit https://www.gov.uk/blue-badge-scheme-information-council.

helen dolphin in her car holding her blue badge

Blue Badge Scheme FAQs

Where do I apply for a Blue Badge?

The simplest way to apply for a Blue Badge is online at https://www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge. However, some Local Authorities allow you to apply on a paper form which you can usually collect from your council offices. A word of warning though, don't apply for a Blue Badge from anywhere other than your council or GOV.UK. There have been several scams where people have pretended to be able to process the Blue Badge and just kept the money.

I’ve lost my DLA when I was reassessed for PIP, can I still use my Blue Badge?

A lot of disabled people who were on Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (HRMC-DLA) but then had to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) didn’t get enough points to continue to be eligible (without further assessment) for a Blue Badge. However, you can continue to use your Blue Badge until it expires. After this time you can still reapply but as you will no longer be eligible (without further assessment) you will need to provide further information and may be called for a face to face interview.

Can I use my Blue Badge in Europe/the rest of the world?

There is an agreement between all European Countries to recognise the Blue Badge, whichever country it was issued in, and allow the disabled person to make use of the same parking concessions as the country’s own citizens with a disability. There is no indication that this agreement will not carry on post-Brexit. However, the concessions are very different in other European countries so do check the rules before you park. Many other countries outside Europe also have accessible parking schemes and some may also recognise your Blue Badge. The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) has published a worldwide guide to accessible parking which takes some of the guesswork away. The link to their website is http://www.disabledmotorists.eu/

AccessAble’s Detailed Access Guides have detailed sections on parking - covering availability of Blue Badge spaces for each of the 70,000 venues on our website and App. Search on www.AccessAble.co.uk and download the free App from the Apple Store and the Google Play Store.

Screenshot of a Detailed Access Guide parking section

If you have any further questions about the Blue Badge scheme, feel free to get in touch.

Motoring advocate, entrepreneur, presenter