Can I apply for a blue badge?
By: Philippa Harrington, On: 10 September 2018
What is the blue badge scheme?
The Blue Badge scheme exists to help people with mobility issues and disabilities. People who are eligible for the Blue Badge are allowed to park more closely to their destination than non-badge holders, allowing them to access facilities more easily. The scheme is national and offers protected street parking for holders of the badge, whether they are driving or a passenger. When a person has the badge, they can park freely in a range of places, including on yellow lines in certain circumstances.
Who is eligible to apply?
The eligibility criteria for the Blue Badge parking scheme recognise that disabilities can be visible or hidden, and the scheme offers a lifeline for people with disabilities and conditions that might otherwise prevent them from living their lives independently and confidently. There are circumstances which offer immediate eligibility for the badge and these tend to apply if applicants are in receipt of certain benefits. Where the applicant is applying for the badge on the grounds of struggling to walk, the rules are less hard and fast, with each individual application being reviewed on a merit basis by the local authority issuing the badges. This may include an assessment with an occupational therapist or physiotherapist as part of the application process.
Parents of children under the age of three who need to travel with bulky medical equipment, or who always need to be close to their vehicle because of the risk of immediate treatment needs or the requirement to travel to a hospital at short notice, can also apply on behalf of the child.
Additionally, organisations that are responsible for driving individuals who fit the criteria above can also apply for the badges under a special provision of the scheme. Examples include care homes, social services departments, and hospices.
Changes to the scheme
The Blue Badge parking scheme has recently undergone a significant shake-up which is designed to better include people with ‘hidden’ disabilities. The badges will now be available to people who have conditions such as mental health issues and autism. The move comes after years of campaigning by charities and individuals who argue that those with some hidden disabilities struggle with walking longer distances or taking transport in the same way that those with physical disabilities do and may find themselves disadvantaged without preferential parking.
When do the new scheme changes take place?
The revised scheme will be applicable from early next year and full communications will be issued from the DVLA and other organisations in advance of the changes and as part of a broader awareness scheme.
Who is eligible for the Blue Badge?
The government publishes a detailed list of eligibility criteria, but the main points are that the scheme is open to:
- Individuals with disabilities or conditions that prevent them from undertaking a journey without risking significant harm to their own health and safety – or that of others
- Individuals who cannot undertake journeys without the risk of severe psychological distress
- Individuals who struggle to walk – either physically or experientially.
Are there any areas in England which aren’t covered by the scheme?
Yes, there are some parts of central London which are exempt from the Blue Badge scheme. These include the Cities of London and Westminster, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and areas of Camden. Additionally, the scheme concessions don’t apply to car parks which are located off-street in places such as hospitals and supermarkets. They also don’t apply at private car parks, such as those found in city centres and airports.
How to apply
Applications should be made to the local authority who will issue the badge. Alternatively, forms can be downloaded from the Gov UK website. The badge itself is two-sided and a photo identification badge with details of the holder’s name. The badge must always be clearly displayed when used and must never be transferred to another driver or passenger who is not eligible under the scheme. Details on use are provided when the badge is issued. There are fines of up to £1000 applicable where the badge is misused. The badge must also be returned if the holder’s circumstances change.
Find out more
Fish Insurance specialises in providing quality, cost-effective insurance for Blue Badge holders, disabled drivers, and drivers of adapted vehicles. Our policy includes benefits such as cover for the repair and replacement of adaptations to your car and a free courtesy car (or up to £700 mobility allowance if a suitable car is not available). You can find out more about our specialist Car Insurance by clicking here.