As you may be aware, changes are being made to the eligibility criteria for Blue Badges. After significant lobbying from Headway and numerous other disability charities, the eligibility criteria are being expanded to include hidden disabilities.
The Government is responsible for legislation/regulation and local authorities are responsible for implementation and administration of the scheme. New guidance for local authorities has now been issued by the Government, with the changes due to come into effect on 30 August 2019. If you want to read the guidance in detail (150 pages) then it can be found online at:- https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/809057/blue-badge-scheme-local-authority-guidance.pdf
In summary, here are some of the key points from the guidance:
· The Blue Badge Digital Service includes an online eligibility checker that is available via Gov.UK www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge so that members of the general public can check quickly and easily whether they may be eligible for a badge.
· It is important that when making the initial application, applicants provide detailed information about their disability
· Applicants will still be able to apply through their local authority but may also apply direct through the Blue Badge Digital Service www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge
· Local authorities may charge an application fee, but this must not exceed £10
· In many cases, where an applicant’s eligibility for a Blue Badge is being considered because of a ‘non-physical’ disability, it is anticipated that a local authority should not require an in-person assessment with the applicant. However, there may be exceptional cases where certification by an ‘expert assessor’ is considered necessary or appropriate; either in addition to, or in place of, the collation of insights from health/social care professionals such as specialist nurses of social workers. The role of a decision maker at the local authority is expected to involve comparing all of the insights received from across the application form, supplementary information provided by the applicant, and statements as to how the applicant’s disability manifests from medical and social care professionals familiar with the applicant such as a specialist nurse or care worker.
· pp.138-143 of the guidance includes a pro forma for use by health and social care professionals when submitting a supporting statement for an application. You may wish to use this pro forma when supporting your members/service users.