New guidance has been issued to local authorities requiring them to extend eligibility to the blue badge scheme to people with hidden disabilities from 30 August 2019. The new criteria will cover some claimants with conditions such as dementia, autism and severe anxiety.
Under new regulations laid before parliament in April and coming into force at the end of August, blue badge eligibility will extend to people who:
are unable to walk;
experience very considerable difficulty whilst walking, which may include very considerable psychological distress; or
be at risk of serious harm when walking; or pose, when walking, a risk of serious harm to any other person;”;
Automatically eligible claimants will now include those who:
“obtained a score of 10 points in relation to the “planning and following journeys” activity on the grounds that they cannot undertake any journey because it would cause them overwhelming psychological distress.”
This is in addition to claimants who already automatically qualify because they:
“obtained a score of at least 8 points in relation to the “moving around” activity”.
This is covered by the following descriptors:
c. Can stand and then move unaided more than 20 metres but no more than 50 metres. 8 points.
d. Can stand and then move using an aid or appliance more than 20 metres but no more than 50 metres. 10 points.
e. Can stand and then move more than 1 metre but no more than 20 metres, either aided or unaided. 12 points.
f. Cannot, either aided or unaided, –
(i) stand; or
(ii) move more than 1 metre. 12 points.
The wording of the regulations has also been altered to change the word ‘permanent’ to ‘enduring’:
“has an enduring and substantial disability”
This has been changed on the grounds that it cannot always be certain that a claimant with a mental health condition will have the same level of need on a permanent basis.
Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at the National Autistic Society, said:
“The changes will make a huge difference to thousands of autistic people and their families across England – helping them to go out in the way many others take for granted.”
“Just leaving the house is incredibly difficult for many autistic people – and involves detailed preparation. Some autistic people have no concept of the dangers of the road while others are so anxious about plans going wrong, like not being able to find a parking space, that they don’t go out at all. Having a Blue Badge will be life-changing and help many to reduce loneliness and isolation.”
There are currently around 2.35 million blue badges in the UK. The new criteria are expected to considerably increase this number.
But at the same time the government has announced a review into blue badge fraud, with figures suggesting that theft of blue badges went up 45% last year alone.