What is the Blue Badge scheme?
A Blue Badge provides parking concessions for people with disabilities, allowing them (or whoever is driving with them) to park closer to shopping centres and other destinations. You can use the permit in any vehicle, as long as the badge holder is present (whether driving or being driven). It isn’t assigned to a specific vehicle.
The scheme (also known as the European Parking Badge Scheme) was introduced in April 2000 to help people who have severe difficulty walking by improving accessibility. As of March 2018, 2.35m Blue Badges were held in England.
You can apply for yourself, someone else or an organisation.
How much does a Blue Badge cost?
In England and Northern Ireland, there’s a maximum charge of £10. In Scotland, it can cost up to £20 and in Wales it’s free.
Blue Badge holders in London can get full exemption from paying the congestion charge (although, there is a £10 administration fee for an application). For more information, check out the Transport for London’s discounts and exemptions page and scroll down to the ‘Blue Badge holders’ section.
Blue Badge eligibility
You are entitled to receive a Blue Badge if you’re registered as blind or receive any of the following benefits.
- The mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the higher rate (for under 65s).
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP) with a score of 8 or above in the ‘moving around’ section of the assessment (you’ll be asked to provide a duplicate of your entitlement letter with a date within the past 12 months).
- A lump-sum War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement payment (at tariffs 1 to 8) after being certified as having a serious disability, which means you are unable to, or find it very difficult to, walk.
Blue Badge and dementia
In 2018, a government consultation into the Blue Badge scheme in England demonstrated that the system needs to change to include people with 'hidden disabilities', which includes people with dementia.
As yet, there is no clear guidance for local authorities on how to apply the new guidelines. If you have dementia but don't meet any of the other eligibility criteria, you may therefore be turned down for a Blue Badge.
In Scotland, however, the Scottish Government has extended with Blue Badge scheme to include people with cognitive impairments. This makes it easier for people with dementia, autism and Down's syndrome to be successful in their application for a Blue Badge.
In Wales, applicants over the age of 65 must be able to confirm they have a diagnosis of a cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer's or dementia. They will need to show evidence that because of their cognitive impairment, the person is unable to plan and follow any journey. This includes attending a memory clinic or a letter from a relevant health specialist confirming they require supervision for all journeys beyond that which is normally expected of a person of their age.
In Northern Ireland, cognitive impairment or hidden disabilities aren't included in the Blue Badge eligibility criteria.
What if you aren’t automatically eligible?
You may also be eligible for a badge if:
- you have a permanent disability that means you have difficulty walking short distances (around 80 metres)
- you have a permanent disability that prevents you from using parking meters.
If this is the case, you or the person supporting you will need to fill in an extra part of the application form to demonstrate why you need the permit. If possible, get a letter from your GP or consultant as evidence.
If you have any further questions about eligibility, or you’d like to discuss an application in advance, you can contact your local council.
How to get a Blue Badge
For guidance on how to apply for a Blue Badge read our article on the application process. This includes tips on how to fill in the form and how to renew an existing badge.
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