What is the Blue Badge Scheme?
The Blue Badge Scheme provides a national arrangement of parking concessions for people with severe walking difficulties who travel either as drivers or passengers. The Scheme also applies to registered blind people, and people with very severe upper limb disabilities who regularly drive a vehicle but cannot turn a steering wheel by hand.
It allows badge holders to park close to their destination, but the national concessions apply only to on-street parking. Details are set out in the 'Where to park' section. In addition other concessions may be available to badge holders.
The European style Blue Badge was introduced from 1 April 2000, as existing badges come up for renewal, or as new applications are processed. Orange badges were discontinued on 31 March 2003.
The eligibility criteria for a Blue Badge and guidance have been revised by the Department of Transport. The guidance particularly stresses that a badge should only be issued to an applicant who meets one of the eligibility criteria set out in the legislation and that badges should never be issued to people solely on the basis of their age.
Eligibility for a Blue Badge is now considered in terms of being:
- eligible without further assessment or being
- eligible subject to further assessment.
People are eligible without further assessment when they:
- Receive the Higher Rate of the Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance or
- Are registered blind (severely sight impaired) or
- Receive a War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement or
- Have been both awarded a lump sum benefit at tariffs 1-8 of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and certified as having a permanent and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking.
People are eligible subject to further assessment when they:
- Drive a vehicle regularly, have a severe disability in both arms and are unable to operate, or have considerable difficulty in operating, all or some types of parking meter; or
- Have a permanent and substantial disability which causes an inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking
- A child who, on account of a condition, must always be accompanied by bulky medical equipment which cannot be carried around with the child without great difficulty
- A child who, on account of a condition, must always be kept near a motor vehicle so that, if necessary, treatment for that condition can be given in the vehicle or the child can be taken quickly in the vehicle to a place where such treatment can be given.
An independent review commissioned by the Department of Transport recommended the use of independent mobility assessments in combination with initial cross-checking of existing council records. It found that well designed desk-based assessments were the most cost effective and robust method of assessing an applicant's eligibility under the subject to further assessment walking criterion. The review demonstrated that local authorities who adopted a combination of mobility assessments and desk based assessments significantly improved the accuracy of eligibility decisions, improved the consistency of eligibility decisions and reduced the costs associated with obtaining GP opinions.
Funding of eligibility assessments
In April 2011 the Department of Health transferred control of previous NHS spend on Blue Badge eligibility assessments to local authorities. Until then when a person did not have an automatic entitlement for a Blue Badge the persons GP was asked to complete an eligibility assessment opinion. GPs charged the Primary Care Trust for this opinion on a case by case basis.
This funding will now be distributed to local authorities by the Department of Health as part of the Learning Disability and Health Reform Grant.
Organisations caring for disabled people meeting one or more of the above criteria may be able to get a badge, but this is entirely at the local authority's discretion and the conditions for using such a badge must be strictly observed - see 'How to display the badge'.