If you are the owner of a Blue Badge, you have many rights and responsibilities you should be aware of. The following information has kindly been provided by car dealers Lookers to help ensure Healthy Life Essex readers know the facts.
A Blue Badge can open up a range of opportunities, the main advantage being that it allows you to park closer to a destination, whether you’re a passenger or the driver
You are automatically eligible for a Blue Badge under certain circumstances, for example, if you receive the higher rate of mobility component of Disability Living Allowance. (See below for the full list of automatic entitlements). You may also be able to apply if you, or a child you care for, has health conditions that affect mobility. You can also apply on behalf of another person or for your organisation if it cares for and transports people with special needs who would qualify for a Blue Badge in their own right. .
The badge is usually issued for a period of three years and costs £10. However, if your benefit award is for a limited time, your Blue Badge will be issued with the same end date. Alongside Blue Badges, mobility allowance can also be a good way to find yourself perfect Motability deals.
Is there a correct way to apply for a blue badge?
You can apply online through the GOV.UK website which also includes further information about eligibility and use. The application will be sent to your local council which will make the decision.
You can also apply by post to your local council. The GOV.UK website provides direct web links to your local council and the appropriate page on their website, which makes it much easier than trying to navigate many council websites! You can also contact your local council to make a postal application. (Some councils also have an online application process and/or request you download an application form.)
You must have your National Insurance number readily available if you are applying for your own badge, or a child reference number if the application is for a minor. If you already have a driving licence, you’ll be required to provide your details alongside the number, local council and expiry date on your current Blue Badge — if you own one.
Also required is proof of identification, a photo which is up to date, proof of address and, if you’re automatically eligible, your original decision letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will need to be provided. You’ll be required to fill in an additional section on the form if you’re not automatically eligible.
You should hear back from your council within six to eight weeks. If you are automatically entitled, the process is normally quite straightforward. If you don’t have any of those entitlements, you may be asked to do a mobility assessment or to send extra information before you are granted with the badge.
If for whatever reason you are refused, you can ask for the decision to be reconsidered. You may also find that your local councillor or MP will be supportive if you feel the council’s decision is unfair.
What requirements must you have to qualify for a blue badge?
The proposed beneficiary must be over two years old to qualify. There are five reasons you will give automatically entitlement:
• You receive a higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
• You are registered blind
• You have been given a sum by the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme and have been registered with a substantial and permanent disability
• You get a Personal Independence Payment which shows an eligible descriptor of the ‘moving around’ activity of the mobility component
• You receive a War Pensioner’s Mobility supplement
Examples of other reasons which may entitle you to own a Blue Badge include:
• A terminal illness which interferes with your ability to walk and has led to you being issued with a DS1500
• Regularly drive a vehicle and have severe disabilities with your arms
• Have a substantial or permanent disability that means you can’t, or it’s very difficult to walk
Unfortunately, at the moment, people with hidden disabilities such as autism, dementia and mental health conditions are rarely successful in applying for a Blue Badge, although the Government has confirmed that the scheme will be extended to people with non-physical disabilities in 2019. At the time of writing, a more specific time-line for the planned extension has not been announced.
Can you use your blue badge abroad?
Your Blue Badge is also recognised throughout the European Union (EU). However, it must be noted that the concessions provided may not be the same as those in the UK. And, of course, it isn’t possible to prdeict at this point how this could be affected by Brexit.
There are currently no arrangements in place that would allow you to use your badge outside the EU in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.
Are there particular areas which the Blue Badge can’t be used?
Please remember that just because you own a Blue Badge, you don’t have free reign on where you can park. Parking incorrectly could result in a fine, points on your license, or even your vehicle being towed away!
You must always display your blue parking clock in sight for wardens to see your arrival time. Unlike other drivers, holding a Blue Badge allows you to park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours as long as you’re not blocking any loading or unloading areas.
Make sure you know what any off-street car park establishments’ status is. You should never assume you can just park for free or you may receive a nasty surprise.
Also, if you’re not the driver, you must make sure whoever is behind the wheel also knows this. It is only intended for on-street parking, with off-street car parks such as supermarkets spaces being governed by separate rules. You must make sure you do not park anywhere which could cause an obstruction or be a danger to other road users. Doing so may result in a Penalty Charge Notice being handed out, or worse yet your vehicle may be removed.
If you’re not in England, but still in the UK, check what that country’s concessions are with the relevant authority.
The same goes for travelling in London — check with Transport for London for further information. This is due to the fact the scheme doesn’t fully apply in the City of London, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and part of the London Borough of Camden.
If you’re parking in a zone which is covered by parking meters and pay-and-display machines, you are able to park free of charge for as long as is required if you display your badge. This also goes for disabled parking bays, unless it states otherwise.
Is anyone else able to use my blue badge?
If you’re a passenger or the driver, then your badge is okay to use. However, misuse is illegal. If the badge is used without you in attendance, the user could be fined up to £1,000 and the badge may be confiscated. If you are a passenger, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the driver is aware of any rules laid out.
Don’t ever allow your family or friends to use the badge to gain free parking – even if they are using it to visit you. Also, although it’s not illegal to do so, you shouldn’t sit in the car while someone else takes advantage of the badge’s benefits.
How are you supposed to display your blue badge?
Don’t have your photograph on show, but do make sure your details remain legible. The best way to do this is by placing it on the dashboard or facia panel so that it can be read through your front windscreen. It’s your responsibility to make sure the badge is visible to any traffic warden that may pass your vehicle.
Is there a correct way to re-apply for a blue badge?
It’s advised that you reapply for your badge well in advance of its expiry date. If it expires, you may be fined if you continue to use it. It’s possible to renew online and you will also receive a letter from the Blue Badge Improvement Service to remind you it’s time to renew.
So, it’s clear that the Blue Badge is a top tool to help those who need it to continue your everyday life. However, be sure to take note of where you can and can’t use it to make sure you aren’t stung be any unwanted fines!