1.2 The purpose of this document is to set out Reading Borough Councils Blue Badge policy following national changes to the Blue Badge (Disabled Parking) Scheme and describe the local implementation of these arrangements. This document aligns Reading Borough Council policy with national guidelines published in August 2019.
2.1 The Blue Badge (Disabled Person’s Parking) Scheme was introduced in 1971under Section 21 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (‘the 1970 Act’).
2.2 The aim of the scheme is to help disabled people with severe mobility problems to access goods and services, by allowing them to park close to their destination. The scheme is open to eligible disabled people irrespective of whether they are travelling as a driver or passenger.
2.3 From 30 August 2019, the scheme was extended to include people with nonvisible (“hidden”) disabilities.
2.4 The Blue Badge scheme provides a range of parking concessions for people with severe mobility problems. The scheme operates throughout the UK and is recognised within the European Union.
2.5 The Department for Transport (DfT) is responsible for the legislation that sets out the framework for the Blue Badge scheme and issues non-statutory guidance in order to share good practice.
2.6 The DfT cannot intervene in the case of individual applications or eligibility decisions.
2.7 Local Authorities are responsible for the day-to-day administration of the scheme. It is the responsibility of Reading Borough Council to ensure that badges are only issued to residents who satisfy one or more of the eligibility criteria set out in the legislation that governs the scheme. Under no circumstances should anyone who does not satisfy at least one of the criteria receive a badge.
3.1 The Blue Badge Scheme has two types of eligibility criteria: ‘without further assessment’ (previously known as ‘Automatic’) and ‘subject to further assessment’ (previously known as ‘Discretionary’).
3.2 Without further assessment’ (previously known as ‘Automatic’)
In order to qualify for a Blue Badge automatically, an application must meet one or more of the following criteria, where the applicant is more than two years old:
3.3 Subject to further assessment’ (previously known as ‘Discretionary’)
An applicant may qualify for a badge after further assessment where the applicant is more than two years old and may be described as one or more of the following:
3.3 In all cases, entitlement depends on the applicant’s difficulty when walking as part of a journey, and considerations such as difficulty in carrying parcels, opening car doors and width of parking spaces are not considered.
3.4 Applicants will need to demonstrate that their ability to walk is affected to the extent that they would be unable to access goods and services unless allowed to park close to shops, public buildings and other facilities.
3.5 The disability experienced by the applicant must endure for at least three years and therefore excludes temporary limitations of mobility, such as a broken leg.
3.6 In addition, children under the age of three may be eligible for a badge if they fall within one or both of the following descriptions:
3.7 Non-visible (hidden) disability
The blue badge criteria changed on 30 August 2019 and was extended to include people who have a non-visible disability and who meets one or more of the following criteria:
4.1 Applicants who may be eligible under further assessment criteria will have a desktop assessment by an Expert Assessor. Reading Borough Council Expert Assessors are Occupational Therapists with training and experience of the Blue Badge assessment process and legislation in line with DfT guidance.
4.2 If a decision cannot be made at desktop the applicant can be invited for a mobility assessment or under hidden disabilities guidance asked to provide further information. Applicants may be asked to arrange for a medical professional known to them to complete and submit the Expert Assessor form before a final decision can be made. https://intranet.reading.gov.uk/manual/blue-badge-policy
4.3 Face to face mobility assessments are carried out by Expert Assessors using assessment criteria set out by the DfT Before face to face mobility assessments are considered the Expert Assessor will consider virtual assessments, information platforms and resources, and only when there is insufficient evidence to inform their decision will request a face to face assessment. During periods of Covid restrictions DfT guidelines must be followed with regards to face to face assessments.
4.4 Applicants will receive detailed letters explaining decisions both at desktop and following Mobility Assessments in line with DfT guidelines.
4.5 The full description of the changes to criteria can be seen on the Department for Transport website under Running a Blue Badge parking scheme
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-blue-badge-scheme-local-authority-guidance-england(link is external)
4.6 It is the responsibility of the Council to interpret and apply the above criteria fairly.
4.7 Under no circumstances must a badge be issued to an applicant who does not meet one of the eligibility criteria set out in the legislation which governs the scheme. Badges must never be issued to people solely based on their age.
4.8 Letters can be provided in different formats as required to ensure accessibility requirements are adhered to.
5.1 An organisational badge may be issued to an organisation for use in a motor vehicle or vehicles when the vehicle or vehicles are to be used to carry disabled people who would themselves be eligible for a badge as specified in Section 4(2) of the Disabled Persons (Badges for Motor Vehicles) (England) Regulations 2000 (“the 2000 Regulations”).
5.2 An ‘organisation’ is defined in the 2000 Regulations as meaning an organisation concerned with the care of disabled persons to which a disabled person’s badge may be issued in accordance with section 21(4) of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970.
5.3 Reading Borough Council will check whether the organisation in question:
5.4 Reading Borough Council considers that taxi or private hire operators would not be eligible for an organisational Blue Badge as they are not usually responsible for the care of disabled people who would meet one or more of the eligibility criteria for a badge. Such operators are, of course, able to use an individual’s Blue Badge when carrying that person as a passenger.
5.5 This same criterion applies to vehicles owned by the council which are used to carry out the functions of a taxi or private hire operator. Applications for badges from organisations caring for disabled people will be examined to ensure that they are genuine and necessary. It is for local authorities to make this judgement, based on their local knowledge of the organisation concerned. Common examples of organisations that may be eligible include residential care homes, hospices or local authority social services departments and community transport operators that transport groups of people who would meet the eligibility criteria for an individual Blue Badge.
5.6 In order to help determine eligibility of applications, Reading Borough Council will ask the applicant organisations:
5.7 Organisations must care for a minimum of six eligible people in order to be considered for an organisational badge.
5.8 Organisations must have a contract in place to care for their eligible disabled customer for a period of at least three years in order to be considered for an organisational badge.
5.9 All employees of the organisation who will be using the badge will be reminded that they must only use the badge for the purposes of transporting disabled people who meet one or more of the eligibility criteria for a badge. These employees will be reminded that if they use the badge to take advantage of the concessions when there are no passengers in the vehicle who are themselves eligible for a badge, they could face a fine of up to £1,000.
5.10 The number of badges given to any organisation will be considered on an individual basis and will be dependent on the number of people cared for.
6.1 The DfT provides the national online application facility through GOV.UK.
https://www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge(link is external)
6.2 Reading Borough Councils website features guidance notes to help with the online application process. This can be accessed at:
6.3 For applicants who cannot reasonably be expected to apply online, paper applications can be accepted in exceptional circumstances. Reading Borough Councils paper application form is based on the DfT’s model application form.
6.4 Applicants are asked to provide detailed information about their disability and mobility difficulties at the initial application stage. Applicants must answer all questions as fully as possible in order to aid the council’s decision-making process.
7.1 Reading Borough Council charges an administration fee of £10 for the issue of Blue Badges. This includes all applications, regardless of whether the applicant has held a Blue Badge previously. Only successful applicants will be asked to pay the badge issue fee.
7.2 Replacement Badges are also charged an administration fee of £10. This includes lost, stolen or damaged Blue Badges.
7.3 New and replacement palliative badges are issued without charge.
7.4 All replacement badges will be re-issued with the same expiry date of the stolen, lost or damaged badge.
8.1 Applicants must provide any supporting documents required in order for their application to be processed (i.e. to prove identity, residency and eligibility when applying under ‘without further assessment’ criteria). Applicants should also provide any supporting documents to help support their application when applying under ‘subject to further assessment’ (e.g. letters and reports from medical specialists).
8.2 Customers are advised not to submit original documentation. Reading Borough Council cannot guarantee that original documentation will be returned to the applicant.
8.3 An applicant’s residency status will be verified using a document such as:
An applicant’s identity will be verified using one of the following documents:
8.4 Blue Badges include a digitally scanned, passport-style photograph.
8.5 Applicants can upload a digital photograph onto the online application form. People who are unable to access photographs can provide a suitable photograph taken by other means which meets the passport-style standard.
8.6 The only circumstance in which a photograph of the badge holder does not have to be displayed in the badge is in the case of an eligible disabled person with a terminal illness if Reading Borough Council is satisfied that life expectancy of that person is less than six months.
9.1 All applications are treated as ‘new’ applications and are assessed on the same basis regardless of whether the applicant has previously held a Blue Badge unless previously agreed by Expert Assessor as permanent.
9.2 All Blue Badges are processed through Customer Services:
9.3 All Blue Badges are printed and posted through DfT’s Blue Badge Digital Service.
9.4 An application is only considered to be completed once all required supporting documentation, a suitable photograph and an application form has been received by Reading Borough Council.
9.5 The normal period of issue for a Blue Badge is three years, unless entitlement is linked to an automatic qualifying benefit; in which case it will be issued for a period corresponding to the remaining term of this award (up to a maximum of three years). Badges issued to children under the age of three are issued until the child’s third birthday.
9.6 Reading Borough Council has a fast-track application process in place for people who have a terminal illness that seriously limits their mobility.
9.7 Reading Borough Council may make use of information from an applicant’s GP, Connected Care, Mosaic or from other professionals regarding an applicant’s condition(s) and treatment(s) as evidence to support the eligibility decision making process.
9.8 Individuals must not be in receipt of more than one valid Blue Badge at any time.
9.9 Reading Borough Council reserves the right to refuse, withdraw or re-issue a Blue Badge where abuse or misuse is reasonably suspected.
10.1 The council aims to process Blue Badge applications within 4 to 6 weeks of a completed application and all evidence being received.
10.2 If further information or evidence is requested from the applicant and no response is received from the applicant within 4 weeks, the application will be deemed cancelled and will not be processed any further.
10.3 If further information is required from an Expert Assessor or a mobility assessment is required, the timescale is extended to 8 weeks.
10.4 Applicants moving to Reading should continue to use their existing badge until it expires and reapply to Reading Borough Council.
11.1 As long as the badge is physically included in the journey, a vehicle displaying a Blue Badge is allowed to park:
11.2 Blue Badge holders are not permitted to park in bays for specified users such as permit holders bays, unless they also have a resident’s permit.
12.1 Badges that are no longer required must be returned to: Reading Civic Centre, 19 Bridge Street, Reading, RG12LU
12.2 If badges for which a replacement has been provided are subsequently found or recovered, the original badge must be returned to Reading Borough Council so that it can be destroyed.
12.3 Damaged badges must also be returned to Reading Borough Council to be officially destroyed.
12.4 When a Blue Badge holder dies, the badge must be immediately returned to Reading Borough Council as per regulation 9(1) of the 2000 Regulations.
13.1 Under regulation 8 of the 2000 Regulations (as amended by SI 2011/2675), Reading Borough Council will refuse to issue a Blue Badge if:
13.2 Reading Borough Council will let the applicant know in writing why their application was refused.
14.1 Applicants have the right to request a review of the decision not to issue them with a badge, within 28 days of the date of the decision letter. All requests will normally be dealt with within 28 days of receipt. The request must be made in writing to the Blue Badge Team and must detail:
14.2 The Review of Decision will be made by the Lead Occupational Therapist who may request one of the following be undertaken as part of the review:
14.3 The Review of Decision will require DfT eligibility criteria to be applied against new evidence provided.
14.4 As part of the Review of Decision all paperwork submitted and assessments undertaken as part of the process will be reviewed and taken into consideration.
14.5 If, following a request for review, the applicant’s application for a blue badge remains unsuccessful this decision will be final. The applicant will be written to and a detailed explanation given for the decision.
14.6 No further application can be made for a period of three months following the final decision, unless the individual’s mobility changes significantly during that time period.
15.1 If an applicant has a complaint regarding the administration, processes or customer service of the Blue Badge Team this is separate to the Review of Decision. Applicants can submit a complaint, details of which can be found online at https://www.reading.gov.uk/complaints
15.2 In addition to the council’s own procedure, if the customer feels that they have suffered an injustice because of maladministration, the Local Government Ombudsman may investigate. Details of which can be found on line at http://www.lgo.org.uk/(link is external)
16.1 Blue Badge fraud usually takes two forms. This is either the misuse of valid badges by friends and family members not permitted to use the badge, or by drivers using lost, stolen or counterfeit badges. In all instances, the illegal use of Blue Badges constitutes a criminal offence. Reading Borough Council are determined to stamp out Blue Badge fraud and will aim to prosecute abusers. A successful prosecution will result in a criminal record and a hefty fine (which could be over £1000).
16.2 Suspected Blue Badge fraud must be reported to the Council and will be treated with confidence. Fraud can be reported in one of the following ways.
Blue Badge Scheme Local Government Authority Guidance June 2019