New arrangements for the assessment of blue badge applications from 1st September 2012
The UK Government is introducing significant changes to the way applications for Disabled Parking ‘Blue Badges’ are assessed.
On 1st January 2012, Transport Scotland introduced a new national Blue Badge Improvement Service (BBIS) that required all councils in Scotland to order new fraud proof badges via the BBIS and use a new single national BBIS Data Sharing System (DSS). A review was also undertaken of the arrangements for assessing those applicants who do not automatically qualify for a Blue badge through their entitlement to a qualifying benefit such as Disability Living Allowance.
As a result of the review there will be a change away from the current procedure where a customer’s GP provides the medical assessment of eligibility for a blue badge. Instead From 1st September 2012 independent mobility assessments (IMA’S) will be introduced, under the provisions of the Disabled Persons (Badges for Motor Vehicles) (Scotland) Amendment No 2 Regulations 2011.
The aim of the new IMA process is to provide an objective and consistent independent assessment of applicants’ eligibility under the ‘unable to walk’ or ‘virtually unable to walk’ criteria. Independent mobility assessors are also being used to help avoid compromising the GP/patient relationship.
Mobility related assessments cannot be undertaken by council employees, so customers requiring an IMA will be referred to NHS occupational therapy practitioners. This will ensure that those customers who do not automatically qualify for a blue badge have their eligibility assessed by a person who is appropriately trained in assessing mobility needs.
How will this affect customers?
The initial Blue Badge application process remains unchanged, customers can still apply:
- Online - Applicants who are automatically entitled to a Blue badge due to the benefits they receive can apply and pay for a Blue Badge online.
- By Post - Blue badge enquiries or requests and completed applications can be posted to a single council wide address: Blue Badges, Argyll and Bute Council, Kilmory, Lochgilphead, PA31 8RT
- In Person - Customers can access information, application forms and submit completed applications in person at most of the local Customer Service Points. Customers who live in on Tiree can visit the Customer Service Point there for information, but should post their completed applications to:
Blue Badges, Argyll and Bute Council, Kilmory, Lochgilphead PA31 8RT.
In all cases the application fee of £20 must be submitted with the application form.
The following customers automatically qualify for a blue badge and the council will immediately process their applications, once all relevant evidence has been received:
- Those who are registered blind;
- Those who receive the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance;
- Those who have a vehicle supplied through the Motability Scheme;
- Those who receive a War pensioner’s Mobility Supplement.
- Those who receive an award under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)
Providing the application form has been completed fully and all supporting documentation has been received, customers who automatically qualify based on the qualifying criteria above will receive their Blue Badge within 5 working days of submitting their application to Argyll and Bute Council and having it approved.
Only those applicants who do not automatically qualify for a blue badge will have their application referred by the council to an NHS Independent Mobility Assessor to assess the applicant’s eligibility for a Blue Badge.
The assessment may take the form of a desk based assessment of the application form and medical evidence supplied; however in some cases a face to face assessment may be required before a decision can be made. If a face to face assessment is necessary a health care professional from the occupational therapy department of the National Health Service will contact the applicant to arrange a suitable venue and time. Customers will be made aware that the introduction of these independent mobility assessments will mean the application process will take longer; up to eight weeks if a face to face assessment is required.
To allow for the longer potential processing time and to ensure customers are not left without their badge, renewal applications will be accepted up to 8 weeks before the expiry date of the existing badge and this will continue going forward.
Applications will be accepted under the current GP based assessment system for all customers whose badges expire before 1st October 2012, providing they submit a completed application with GP support before 1st September 2012.
From 1st September 2012 all applications submitted must by law be processed under the new IMA procedure.
The use of independent mobility assessments may result in some Blue Badge holders being refused a badge when they reapply because of the more robust and objective assessment process. An appeals process is being introduced for customers whose application for a blue badge has been refused.