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Helen Dolphin from People's Parking looks at the recent BBC news report which claims there is great disparity between for people with non-visible disabilities and those with physical disabilities qualifying for Blue Badges.

In August 2019 the Blue Badge parking scheme was extended to include people with non-visible conditions such as dementia, epilepsy or Parkinson's. in the first 12 months of the eligibility changing 28,000 blue badges were issued to people who cannot walk as part of a journey without considerable psychological distress or the risk of serious harm. 

However, In January this year the BBC published an article with the title “Blue Badge permit 'shocking disparity' revealed”. According to research by the BBC eight out of 10 councils have higher approval ratings for the issuing of Blue Badges for people with physical disabilities than their non-visibly disabled counterparts. Using a Freedom of Information Act request they sought information from the 216 upper-tier councils across the UK. The information provided showed that eight out of 10 had higher approval rates for people with physical impairments. 

I have looked carefully at this data and I am not completely surprised by what the BBC discovered, and I do not think it shows “shocking disparity”. I was actually more surprised that any authority had higher issue rates for people with non-visible disabilities as there would not be any renewals coming through for this group yet because the criteria for non-visible disabilities only came in in 2019.  I was also surprised that applications could be split so easily into those with physical disabilities and those with non-visible disabilities. This is because many physical disabilities such as cystic fibrosis, visual impairment and heart problems are non-visible. I do not know but I presume these people applied using the criteria that they cannot physically walk very far. Also, many people have a combination of both, some physical disabilities and some non-visible disabilities. I have no idea how these types of applications would be recorded. When all these points are considered it is hard to say categorically that there is any great disparity.

I accept that there probably are some difficulties with local authorities understanding and applying the new criteria and people applying for the first time can be unsure as to what evidence they need to provide, which can make it hard for a local authority assessor to come to a decision. However, I don't think there is anything like the disparity that the BBC is claiming, and I don't think this research is very helpful. It will be interesting to see how the figures change over time and whether numbers of Blue Badges issued increases significantly. 

For more help and information on improving car parks for Blue Badge holders email Helen at helen@peoplesparking.org or call 07941253947. 

Posted on 23 Apr 2021 at 09:03:05