Blue Badges are a lifeline for many people with disabilities, allowing them to park closer to their destinations.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK in March, most local authorities relaxed the rules on parking permits and stopped issuing fines for people with Blue Badges that had expired after January 1 2020. But on September 30th, this rule relaxation is due to come to an end.
From the last day of this month (September 2020), you will not be able to use an expired Blue Badge and may be issued a penalty charge notice if you continue to use an out-of-date permit. Misusing the badge can lead to a steep fine of up to £1,000.
Permit holders whose badges might have expired in lockdown are being urged to check their details and renew their Blue Badge if needed.
The Blue Badge scheme was introduced in 2000 to help people who have severe difficulty walking. It gives holders access to designated parking spaces and exemption from certain parking restrictions. Last year, the scheme was extended to include disabilities that may not be immediately obvious such as dementia, autism and epilepsy.
You can use a Blue Badge in any vehicle as long as the badge holder is present.
It costs up to £10 in England and £20 in Scotland. It's free in Wales. A Blue Badge usually lasts up to three years. The only exception is if you've been given a temporary Blue Badge as part of your benefits.
Ideally, you should apply for a new Blue Badge before your current one expires. You can apply through your local authority or start the process on the . You'll need a recent digital photo of yourself and you'll be asked to provide proof of identity and address and details of any benefits you receive. You will also need the details of your current Blue Badge to hand, and your National Insurance number.
If your Blue Badge has already expired, you'll still be able to renew online but you won't be able to use your out-of-date one after September 30 without risking a fine.
Check yours now, if you can, to avoid any nasty surprises after the cut-off date.
There are a range of other transport options available for people with limited mobility.
For example, Dial-a-Ride schemes operate in many parts of the UK, providing free, door-to-door minibus travel for disabled and older people who have difficulties using regular public transport.
If you live in London and have serious mobility problems, you could be eligible for subsidised taxi trips through the London Taxicard scheme.