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06 Sep 2019
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

The Blue Badge scheme has expanded - here's what you need to know

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blue badge scheme

There are 30 Blue Badge holders to every council-owned disabled space, on average.

Have you parked in a disabled space when you shouldn't have? Have you seen someone do it? Share your stories in the comments!

According to our research via Freedom of Information requests sent to all local councils, there are over 2 million Blue Badge holders in Great Britain.

But they may find it difficult to get a parking space, as there are roughly 30 Blue Badge holders per council-owned disabled space, on average.

And it may become a tighter squeeze yet.

Since the end of August this year, the Blue Badge scheme in England expanded the criteria for Blue Badge eligibility in order to include those with hidden disabilities.

But 74% of councils don't have any current plans to create more parking spaces in light of this.

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Which regions are feeling the pinch the most?

Region Blue Badge holders per parking space 
 East Midlands 72 
 East of England 62 
 London 10 
 North East 27 
 North West 50 
 Scotland
 South East 22 
 South West  44
 Wales  45
 West Midlands  94
 Yorkshire & the Humber  110

READ MORE: Blue Badge bays: A parking crisis?

Blue Badge scheme to be extended

The government has announced that, on 30th of August this year, Blue Badges will become available to people with, what it terms, 'hidden disabilities'.

This means drivers with less visible disabilities, including dementia, anxiety disorders or reduced mobility, should find it easier to access a parking space.

For the full list of 'hidden disabilities', see page 26 of the government guidelines for councils.

By opening access to work and other amenities, this will offer a lifeline to many people who currently find road travel difficult.

The scheme also aims to combat loneliness by helping people stay connected with family and friends. 

What are the benefits of the Blue Badge scheme?

The aim of the Blue Badge scheme is to assist people with limited mobility.

It grants access to parking spaces that are usually larger than standard, and nearer to a destination. 

The scheme includes a range of on street parking, and it covers you whether you’re a driver or a passenger with a disability. 

If you have a Blue Badge, you can park without a time limit in on-street disabled bays. You won’t be charged for using on-street parking metres and pay and display machines either. 

Parking on yellow lines is also permitted for up to three hours; that is unless a ban on loading or unloading is in force. 

Read more: When can you park on yellow lines?

Am I eligible for a Blue Badge?

To be automatically eligible for a Blue Badge you must meet the following criteria:

  • You receive the higher rate of the mobility component. This is part of the disability living allowance. 

  • You receive certain benefits from the armed and reserved forces and have been certified as having a permanent, substantial disability that greatly affects your ability to walk.

  • You receive a personal independence payment for being unable to walk further than 50 metres.

  • You’re registered blind or severely sight impaired.

  • You receive a War Pensioners Mobility Supplement.

You must provide proof of the above to automatically apply.

If you don’t automatically qualify, you may still be eligible if you meet the following criteria:

  • You either can’t walk, or you find walking considerably difficult.

  • You have a severe or permanent disability that greatly affects your mobility.

  • If you have a severe disability, in your arms, for example, you can’t work on-street parking equipment, and you drive regularly.

People who may also qualify for a badge

You’ll also qualify for a badge if you’re over two and have a permanent disability that causes the inability, or considerable difficulty, to walk.

Children below three years with a medical condition that requires heavy medical equipment, constant access to a car - either for treatment or to be quickly transported to hospital - are also eligible. 

Read more: Parent and child parking bay rules explained 

Badges for organisations 

Some organisations are eligible for a Blue Badge if they transport people who meet the criteria set out above. Examples of this would include residential care homes or hospices.

Your local authority area will investigate whether you need a badge for your organisation. 

How to apply for a Blue Badge

You can either apply or reapply for a Blue Badge through the government website

Here you can apply for yourself, someone else, or on behalf of an organisation.

You’ll need a couple of things to apply: 

  • Proof of identity, for example a passport or driving licence.

  • Proof of address, this could be a utility bill or bank statement. This must be less than a year old.

  • Proof of any benefits.

If you’re applying, you’ll need your national insurance number. If you’re reapplying, you’ll need the details of your current Blue Badge. 

Once submitted, your application will be sent to your council. They will then decide whether you’re eligible within 12 weeks. 

Your application will either be approved, rejected or you might have to provide further information. 

Read more: Car insurance for disabled drivers

blue badge scheme

Mobility assessments

Part of this might be a mobility assessment. A health professional will carry out an assessment of your mobility by asking you to complete a range of mobility exercises. 

They’ll tell your local council if they think your condition makes you eligible for a Blue Badge. You might also be asked to speak to a member of the council.

If your application is refused, the council should tell you why. If you don’t think all the information was considered, you can ask them to reassess your application. 

You can also reapply later if your mobility problem has become more serious.

If you need more information, or assistance with your application, you can contact your local council.

Have your say

Do you think councils should increase the number of disabled bays in car parks? Let us know in the comments!

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