A disability group has welcomed an extension of the Blue Badge parking scheme to include people with developing conditions and severe mental health conditions, but has warned that a ‘misuse and fraud’ review alongside the guidance gives out mixed messages to disabled people.
Angela Matthews, head of policy and research at not-for-profit group, Business Disability Forum, said: “We welcome the revised guidance which extends eligibility for Blue Badge parking to people with developing conditions, severe mental health conditions and others who may be at risk of harm due to reduced situational awareness, for example.
“Whilst people with mental health conditions or less visible conditions such as autism and learning disabilities were not exempt from applying to the Scheme previously, some of the language and elements of the application process were geared more around conditions affecting mobility.
“We also welcome the clear recognition within the guidance that the need for a Blue Badge can fluctuate over a three-year period, due to medical treatment or a developing condition.
“Business Disability Forum was, however, disappointed that such an inclusive move from the Government was announced in the same press release as advising that a new task group will undertake a “misuse and fraud” review of the scheme.
“While we understand effective use of any scheme should of course be monitored, the announcement of this review at the same time as the improved eligibility criteria sends out unhelpful and mixed messages to disabled people.
“This could have been positioned better and in a way that did not associate the potential increased use of the Blue Badge Scheme with ‘fraud’, particularly in relation to a scheme designed to support disabled people who are already recipients of unhelpful narratives.”