As you may be aware in February 2011 the Government announced wide-ranging reforms to the Blue Badge scheme, after a major review of the scheme will heavy involvement form badge holders across the country. The reform programme is intended to help local authorities and badge holders deal with and reduce the current challenges, and to ensure the scheme is able to deal with future pressures and demands. The aims of the reform are to:
- standardise the scheme rules and eligibility for applicants
- prevent abuse of the scheme.
- produce a more durable and fraud resistant badge
- allow local authorities to cover the costs of these changes more appropriately
As a result of these national changes, this will mean some adjustments to the process for Blue Badge applicants in Oxfordshire:
New national database and new-style cards
In January 2012 all Local Authorities joined the new national database of blue badge holders and are no longer permitted to produce badges locally. Applicants continue to apply for a badge locally through Oxfordshire County Council, if eligible, the card is ordered through a new national contract and it will be posted direct from the national suppliers to the applicants’ home address. The new cards are more robust and more secure than previously. This is to reduce the number of fraudulently used cards, and improve the quality of card issued to the pass holder.
New application form
The Oxfordshire County Council blue badge application form has been revised, the new version of the form can be downloaded and printed from their website: Blue Badge Application Form
It is also now possible to make an application for a Blue Badge online via a national application form on the Directgov website, available here: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/MotoringAndTransport/Bluebadgescheme/DG_181208
Customers without access to the internet will still be able to apply by post and until further notice all existing badge holders will continue to receive a reminder and a postal application.
During 2011 access to the Blue Badge scheme was extended to more children between 2-3 years old with certain specific medical conditions, as well as including continuing automatic entitlement to severely disabled service personnel and veterans.
From January 2012 the fee in Oxfordshire for renewal or new application of badges under the Blue Badge scheme was increased to £10. The fee for a blue badge had not been changed in nearly 30 years, as part of the national changes local authorities are permitted to charge up to £10 to allow for the new badge design to be produced and to cover local authority costs more appropriately. The raise to £10 reflects a realistic cost for the processing and manufacture of the new style badges and the additional administration as a result of the scheme changes.
New Independent Mobility Assessment Service
From April 2012, all applicants applying against the “subject to further assessment” criteria, where eligibility is not automatically guaranteed by a customer’s permanent circumstances or condition, will be subject to an independent mobility assessment and the local authority will no longer rely on, or ask the customer to provide, evidence obtained from the customer’s own GP.
The independent mobility assessment will include a Desk Based Assessment based on supporting evidence supplied by the customer and available records, with some applicants being required to attend an appointment with an Occupational Therapist professional for a personal mobility assessment.
Extended powers for local authorities and protective legislation
In order to reduce the abuse of the Blue Badge scheme, local authorities will have greater powers to examine and seize fraudulent or misused cards, refuse to issue cards to those who are or have become ineligible, and will be protected by legislation to ensure that the scheme benefits those for whom it was intended.
More information about the Blue Badge scheme is available at the following websites:
Oxfordshire County Council Blue Badge:
Department for Transport:
Ministerial statement issued by Norman Baker MP:
If you have any questions or concerns please contact the Oxfordshire County Council Social and Health Care Team.
Tel: 0845 050 7666
Fax: 01865 783111