Image of Disabled parking bay

Penny’s Blog: Blue Badge Scheme

So this week’s blog is another “topical” one and it’s all about Blue Badges.

Blue Badges

I will include the usual links to where you can apply for a Blue Badge. Plus where you can use it and who is currently  entitled to do so.

I’ve also included a report and consultation on whether the scheme should be extended to people with hidden impairments, such as Dementia and Autism.

Photo of Blue Badge

So firstly, a few basics:

You will automatically be eligible for a Blue Badge if you satisfy one of the following requirements:

  • You are registered blind (note – being registered as partially sighted does not count)
  • You are in receipt of the Higher Rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
  • You are in receipt of eight points or more under the “moving around” activity of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • You receive War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement (WPMS)
  • You have received a lump sum benefit at tariffs 1-8 of the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces compensation scheme (AFCS). Plus you have been assessed by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) as having a permanent and substantial disability, which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking. Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) awards are not included in the automatic eligibility criteria
  • You regularly drive a vehicle and have a severe disability in both arms (note: only drivers with the most severe disabilities in both their arms will be eligible under this criterion.  It will not apply to people who, for example, have difficulty carrying parcels or shopping)

If none of these apply to you, then you will be processed and assessed on an individual basis.

A Blue Badge will help you park closer to your destination, either as a passenger or a driver. The badge is for on-street parking only. Off-street private car parks, such as those provided in hospitals or supermarkets, are governed by separate rules.

It is worth reading up about how and where you can use your badge, as often, people do not realise the entitlements they have for parking in half hour slots for example. Also certain documents and a photo is required so it is recommended to read the information regarding applying in advance.

How to apply

You can apply for a Blue Badge online, by post or over the phone (Please note that not all councils provide the phone option). Blue badges cost £10.

Norfolk county Council’s preferred method for people to apply is via the online form, but applications via post or phone are welcome too for those who are unable to access or use the online form.

To find out more about Blue Badges and how to apply then visit https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/care-support-and-health/disabilities/blue-badges

For those who already have a Blue Badge it is recommended that they apply for a new one 12 weeks prior to their existing one running out, but again information on renewing your Blue Badge can be found on the link above.

You can apply for a badge online or by downloading an application form and returning it to:

Blue Badge Unit,  PO Box 3210,  Norwich,  NR7 7AB

You can also apply via telephone if you are unable to apply online. Please call the Customer Service Centre on 0344 800 8020.

Image of Disabled parking bay

Proposals to Change the Scheme

Last month a news report informed us of Government proposals to make changes to the Blue Badge Scheme to make it more accessible to people with hidden disabilities such as Dementia and Autism.

The proposals, which would herald the most significant changes since the blue badge was introduced in 1970, would help remove barriers to travel for people with conditions such as dementia and autism. This allows them better access to work, shops and amenities. This is part of the drive for greater parity between the treatment of physical and mental health conditions.

To read more on this story and to have your say visit:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/people-with-hidden-disabilities-could-enjoy-new-freedom-with-blue-badge-changes

Consultation: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/blue-badge-disabled-parking-scheme-eligibility-review

 Attitudes and Actions

Unfortunately we still see the continued misuse of disabled parking bays by those without Blue Badges, as well as the misuse of Blue Badges by those who are not entitled to use them.

This is leading to an increase of people taking things into their own hands. Many are confronting those they deem to be using bays inappropriately.

However the issue arises here when people perceive that because of their appearance someone is not entitled to use a disabled parking bay. Those with (for example) sensory impairments are being challenged because they “do not look” disabled.

Our local Access Groups often hear of issues with Blue Badge parking. We have worked extensively with local Councils and Supermarkets to advocate for better patrolling of disabled parking bays.

In recent years more work has been done to try and crack down on Blue Badge and disabled parking bay misuse. Sadly, unless attitudes change the trend is set to continue.

In some cases, notices have been printed to place on people’s window screens explaining why and who the disabled parking bays are for, and that unless they have the appropriate Blue Badge, then they are not entitled to use these spaces.

Below are some links to recent articles about Blue Badge misuse and the lengths being taken to combat it:

Ipswich Borough and Suffolk County Council fines and confiscations:

http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/clampdown-on-blue-badges-in-ipswich-leads-to-fines-and-confiscations-1-5281824

Norfolk County Council fining fraudsters.

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/blue-badge-fraudsters-fined-by-county-council-1-5302601

Tesco Scheme to stop disabled parking misuse.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/09/tescos-hi-tech-plan-to-hunt-down-cheating-shoppers-who-use-disab/

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