Review the Blue Badge Code of Practice to provide Local Authorities with a more clear and concise approach in order to deliver the scheme with a greater level of consistency.
As of March 2021 there were 238,970 Blue Badges in use across Scotland. A Blue Badge lets a disabled person park closer to their destination and can provide those who have mobility issues with an additional means of travelling.
There was a commitment given in Parliament in 2019 to review the Blue Badge Code of Practice which was last updated in 2014. Since then there have been several changes to legislation and Scheme policy and the expectations of disabled people and society in general has moved on considerably.
Work has already begun on this and we will aim to provide a more clear and concise approach that will achieve a greater level of consistency for Local Authorities and blue badge holders alike.
We have already completed a review of all Local Authority Blue Badge webpages which has highlighted some gaps in the availability of information, as well as some great examples of good practice which can be included in the reviewed Code of Practice.
The Department for Transport (DfT) amended their eligibility criteria in 2019 to include hidden disabilities, including distress when travelling. In Scotland we already have taken similar steps by opening up eligibility criteria to those who have a psychological disorder which results in a lack of awareness around traffic, endangering themselves or others. However there is scope here to enrich the Code of Practice with further guidance on how hidden or psychological disorders could be treated.
With thanks to Disability Equality Scotland we launched a poll with Blue Badge users in January 2021 to understand how effective the current Scheme was operating and what could be done to deliver improvements. The results of the poll reaffirmed the need for improvements with 71% of respondents stating that the current system did not deliver a user-friendly, effective service.
In March 2020, Transport Scotland officials, along with Local Authorities and Motor Neurones Disease (MND) nurse consultants, explored and trialled a fast-tracked prescription model for eligible applicants who have been diagnosed with MND, to provide them with a blue badge without having to participate in the full application phase. Following conclusion of the trial and seeking feedback from those involved Transport Scotland believe that the trial has been successful in delivering its objective. Local Authorities have continued to process MND applications using the fast-tracked method and alongside MND nurse consultants have agreed to continue to work together to streamline and improve the efficiency of the fast-tracked model ahead of a full roll out in 2022.
Key actions for 2021-2022
In order to fulfil this objective Transport Scotland will:
- Engage and work closely with Local Authorities, Healthcare Professionals and Blue Badge holders to revise the existing Code of Practice in order to reduce variation in local practice and to provide a user friendly service.
- Revise existing digital and printed media, including the Blue Badge ‘Rights and Responsibilities’ leaflet, to provide current and future badge holders with all the necessary information they need to fully utilise their blue badge, increase their travel options and provide a better quality of life.
- Work with Local Authorities to provide useful, consistent and reliable information online.
- Work with Local Authorities and MND Scotland to implement a fast-track prescription model for blue badge applicants who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness following a successful trial for those with Motor Neurones Disease in 2020/21