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Blue Badge eligibility criteria changes could cause parking chaos

Posted in General News on Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

The government has recently announced that it will be extending the Blue Badge eligibility criteria to include people with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as dementia, autism and a number of mental health conditions. The change which is due to be introduced early next year will be the biggest overhaul of the scheme since it was introduced in the early 1970s. From next year the eligibility criteria will cover those who:

  • “Cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable physiological distress”
  • “Cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism)”
  • “Have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking)”

These changes to the Blue Badge eligibility criteria have come following an eight week consultation earlier in the year. DMUK took part in the consultation and raised concerns over the possible effect the expansion would have on already limited disabled parking. DMUK urged the Department for Transport (DfT) to be realistic in its thinking. Just extending the criteria will not necessarily mean that more disabled people will benefit. Actually this change may have disastrous consequences for all Blue Badge holders, especially wheelchair users, as there is simply not enough parking to meet demand and concessions could soon disappear because of increased numbers.

Many organisations have welcomed this result and Sarah Newton, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work commented: “We’re taking an important step forward in ensuring people with hidden disabilities get the support they need to live independently.” There is no argument that people with hidden disabilities will benefit from having a Blue Badge and DMUK also supports this group of disabled people. However, the increase in demand may make the entire scheme not fit for purpose and it may let down the people it was originally intended to help as well as disabled people with hidden disabilities.

DMUK advised the DfT to consider proper enforcement of the scheme before it looked to extend it. However we have been unsuccessful in this recommendation. The charity predicts we will be contacted more and more by disabled people who find their Blue Badge completely meaningless as they can never find adequate parking because it will be so oversubscribed. We implore the government to look at the issue of proper Blue Badge provision and enforcement as a matter of urgency so that the scheme maintains its integrity.

DMUK CEO, Graham Footer commented: “DMUK works to support the mobility of disabled people and there is no dispute that people with certain mental health conditions and cognitive disabilities could benefit from having a Blue Badge. However, the charity is concerned that increasing the numbers of Blue Badge holders will put more pressure on limited disabled parking which is poorly enforced and in some areas of the country not enforced at all. We are particularly concerned about how this will impact on wheelchair users.

In light of this recent extension DMUK would like to see the government put more pressure on local authorities to enforce the scheme to make sure it benefits genuine Blue Badge holders. The charity is very concerned that without adequate enforcement the integrity of the scheme will be undermined and of no benefit to any disabled person.”

DMUK encourages all of our members to write to their MP to ask them how abuse of the scheme and provision of spaces is going to be addressed in their local area. We have put together a template letter, which you can be personalised, available to download below as well as our press release.

Template Letter to your MP 

DMUK press release

Comments (21)

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Mike Brown's Gravatar
Mike Brown

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

I agree completely with the comments expressed here. Already I am finding it almost impossible to find a space for my WAV, especially as around 12 disabled spaces were removed in our local town to be replaced with a taxi rank, without re provision. Much can be done to alleviate the situation by proper policing of the scheme and making sure that the badges are not abused. On speaking to a number of our local traffic wardens locally they all know of people abusing the scheme but can do noting about it as they do not have the power to demand proof, and the photograph is on the hidden side not the visible one. In our area there are a number of delivery vans with blue badges on show, and at least one taxi. all of this seems to be against the spirit of the scheme. When I approached the controllers of the scheme at the county headquarters with details of offenders they said there was nothing they could do without the full serial number on the badge. Even then all they would do is watch the situation remotely. This despite abuse of the badge being an offence. Once again the government trying to look good without having a clue as to what is really going on on the ground.

Matt's Gravatar

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

Would also love to know how and where all the extra disabled parking bays are going to be provided to benefit all the new 1000's of new blue badge holders, or are they all going to park on the yellow lines and congest our roads even more...... Where I there are nowhere near enough disabled bays as it is all this is going to do is make it even harder for physically disabled to park where they need to. As it is our local Tescos moved all the disabled bays further away from the entrance in favour of parent and child bays this is just going to make it even worse.

Alan Hearn's Gravatar
Alan Hearn

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

Maybe you should encourage all members to write to their MP &/or Sarah Newton pointing out all of the above (a "template" letter often helps get more sent)? I'm willing, though my MP may be a bit busy at the mo, what with her upcoming court case and everything (plus she only answers when she feels like it and then only if she's in agreement with the cause)!

Ian James Carruthers's Gravatar
Ian James Carruthers

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

I am more than happy that these other disabled people will receive blue badges. Anything to help them! However, there can be a problem using disabled parking sites anywhere. I am disabled with just one leg now and when I visit a place I need a disabled parking space with an extra width shown to help me use my wheelchair or mobility scooter at the side of my car. Using a normal parking site that is impossible for me. But, all disabled people deserve and need a parking site close to wherever they are going but those who are able to walk, at least reasonably, shouldn't be using the type of mobility parking site that I need. What we need, in my opinion, is to have two different types of disabled parking sites. One type for people like me who use a wheelchair and a different one, not as wide, but near to where they are going for disabled people who can walk. Also anyone who uses a disabled parking site, anywhere, even in supermarkets, who doesn't have a blue badge should be prosecuted!


Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

I have a permanent stoma bag and have chemotherapy induced neuropathy in my hands and feet would I be entitled to a blue badge?

J moranda's Gravatar
J moranda

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

Unless they increase the blue badge parking spaces it’s going to mean. I can’t park near to shops drs etc then I have no choice but to go without as walking is very painful and exhausting I. I also don’t have a carer to help me I’m totally reliant on myself for everything.

Clive Stevens's Gravatar
Clive Stevens

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

I agree with you're views entirely. it must be handled perfectly because the main reason for the blue badges is for people who cannot walk very far. As we all know people with mental disabilities can enter and run marathons some without any problems at all?? This extension MUST be allowed and policed very strongly regards Clive Stevens P.S.. my local MP. Is Sarah Newton!!

jed bailey's Gravatar
jed bailey

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

Alas another example of a lack of joined up thinking across government. With growing numbers of disabled people. What is required is a major increase in spaces by changing the following: Changes in planning and building regs Direct action by the government/public sector to ensure all public buildings increase spaces. Law requiring CCTV coverage of spaces in public areas including hospitals supermarkets sports arenas shopping areas, public buildings Test the idea of badge holders having access to locked spaces using fobs, mobiles, or the badge itself. Easier reporting of offenders by badge holders.(phone ap?) Name and shame offenders.

Raymond Cockayne's Gravatar
Raymond Cockayne

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

I absolutely agree with your stand on eligibility and enforcement. I raised these very points in the consultation objections. Typically able bods have totally ignored the disabled and implemented the change regardless. Every week without fail I see blue badges being abused at my local supermarket. When I ask security staff to challenge the abusers they just shrug their shoulders. It makes me wonder why supermarkets bother to have disabled spaces but then the answer is obvious, to look as though they care but in reality they don’t. Out in the real world our government just like the supermarkets just pay us lip service.

Ian Mchardy's Gravatar
Ian Mchardy

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

Thank you very much for passing on this information. I did not realise there had been a change.

Margaret Bennett's Gravatar
Margaret Bennett

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

as a wheelchair user I need the wider spaces to get in and out of car, maybe some disabled spaces dont need to be as wide and the wide ones could be for wheelchair users only. I can see there being real problems when this comes in, not that I dont think autism, dementia and those with hidden disabilities shouldnt have blue badges, they possibly dont need the wide space and its just I need a wide space please.

Nigel Wray's Gravatar
Nigel Wray

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

People already abuse the scheme 'borrowing' them from disabled people. Since the badges have photo identification on them the penalties for abusing them should be significantly increased and carry a minimum 3 penalty points for any abuse. It may reduce the inappropriate use of something genuinely required by those who need a Blue Badge. Better enforcement is required.

Kate Savage's Gravatar
Kate Savage

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

This is just more evidence of government stupidity. Although we should expect no more from Politicians whose lives revolve around walking, jogging, cycling and more than likely going to the gym and other physical activities. These are all the things that anyone with mobility issues is incapable of doing so by dealing this blow to the Blue Badge system they are ensuring that they keep the disabled community in their homes, unable to get out and are thereore invisible to society so can be forgotten. There is already, particularly here in the Midlands, a desperate shortage of disabled parking spaces. Local planners happily accepting two spaces in a 100 vehicle shoppers car park. Both of which, now its been built, are regularly used as Parent/Child spaces due to there being none of these at all. A pushchair cannot get between the cars and the doors on cars cannot be opened sufficiently wide to enable the parent to put a child into a car seat. There is already Blue Badges provided for invisible illnesses, in particular MS which on a good day can be totally invisible but once the sufferer walks to do some shopping the exhaustion sets in and they then struggle to get back to their vehicles. My daughter has had MS for 10 years and has had a blue badge for the last 7 years. Shouldn't a Blue Badge be limited by the local councils and depend on a doctors recommendation and the level of acceptance by the DWP of the disability and the level of their PIP (benefit payment) qualified for?

John barker's Gravatar
John barker

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

I hope they police it better then they do at the moment, Because people are getting away with using someone else’s badge and not been fined , As a wheelchair user I find it very frustrating trying to find a parking bay and you see able body people using the bays and they tell you to go “”””””””””.off

Valerie J's Gravatar
Valerie J

Friday, August, 3rd, 2018

I don't understand how a Blue Badge will help people who: "Cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable physiological distress” “Cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism)” Surely, easy parking access closer to where they wish to go is not going to change the above situation for them. And I think this change is just going to make it easier for those without any disability whatsoever to take advantage of a Blue Badge belonging to someone else. I already find it difficult enough nowadays, with an ever ageing population with mobility difficulties, to find somewhere to park. Personally, I think it is time that the photo of the Blue Badge 'owner' should be shown on display and that people should be able to report those who they think are abusing the system. I know it has been said that that would be unfair etc etc but I am certainly up for it, if it means I can park near to where I need to go. I wonder how many Blue Badge owners, or their carers, realise that to use a Blue Badge the person who 'owns' the Blue Badge must actually get out of the vehicle? Or the driver must be picking up that person. The disabled person cannot just sit in the parked car while the able-bodied passenger, or driver, gets out and goes shopping, or whatever. It is in the instruction manual provided with the Badge.

Aileen Ireland's Gravatar
Aileen Ireland

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

There are insufficient Disabled parking spaces now. ,New ruling is folly. It has become fashionable to claim mental health issues and this is just another episode of pandering to these people. It is an insult to truly physically Disabled people.

James George's Gravatar
James George

Thursday, August, 2nd, 2018

While I agree this will help those with difficulties. I believe the Government should first address the issue of SELFISH UNBADGED DRIVERS WHO ARE JUST TOO LAZY TO WALK. Stronger penelties to these individuals are needed.

Roy Lee's Gravatar
Roy Lee

Sunday, August, 5th, 2018

I think it's great that society is recognising people with hidden disabilities. However, I do feel that wheelchair users are getting squeezed out. It's bad enough as it is, especially trying to find a wheelchair friendly space, especially at hospitals, Dr.s, Dentists.... We are fed up with seeing blue badge bays getting abused, often these bays are being used by people not displaying blue badges and commercial vehicles. It also annoys me when a wheelchair bay is not available, that I see blue badge holders just go and park in a normal bay and then get out and walk a long distance. I do feel that if you can park in a normal bay, then you don't need a blue badge and these bays could be kept free for those that really do need them. It's not only finding a wheelchair friendly bay that is a problem, but I've lost count on how many time we have returned to our car to find someone had totally ignore the hatched lines and our disable sticker on the car requesting to leave room for wheelchair access, to only gone and have parked as closed to our car as possible. I do believe that we should have a two tier parking spaces and badges, which includes wheelchair only bays for people using their wheelchair at the time of parking (not for people owning a wheelchair but not using it at time of parking). Something has to give without those at the severe end of the disable spectrum losing out.

Mr Ian Wilson's Gravatar
Mr Ian Wilson

Tuesday, August, 7th, 2018

I find the system as it stands to be like bum's every one has got one. They are used with out the person being there in the car. Half the time I may as well not have one. I have given up telling those who can do some thing about it only to see the same old, same old. Scrap it and start again with a better system for those that really need it.

Roger Braithwaite's Gravatar
Roger Braithwaite

Tuesday, August, 14th, 2018

I agree with the comments especially with regard to the allocation and width of the disabled parking spaces. It is very frustrating to watch people with Blue Badges parking and then walking away without a care in the world while my wife struggles with the hoist getting my wheelchair out and then assisting me onto it. Perhaps if there were wheelchair only spaces made available it would help us wheelchair users.

Mrs Penny Duce's Gravatar
Mrs Penny Duce

Friday, August, 17th, 2018

I can understand the need for a blue badge for people with a mental illness as my daughter has three children in her family who find life very difficult and she finds it difficult to park near shops with these children. The only problem is as you say there is not enough parking spaces provided now for people like myself who have to unload a scooter from my car. Nor are there enough checked by shops or the traffic wardens, If there is no disabled parking available I cannot get to the shops etc and just have to go home. I get really cross with people who say I was only there for a few minutes but during that few minutes people like myself have not been able to park so have gone home. I could go on for ever but these are a few of my rants. Penny