Disabled Parking: The Impact of the Blue Badge Extension

The biggest change in the Blue Badge scheme in 50 years was announced in June 2019, allowing more disabled people to access free, dedicated parking. What’s changed since the rollout in August, and why does it matter?

Changes to the Blue Badge: Invisible Disabilities

The biggest notable change is that less visible disabilities like arthritis, autism and complex mental health disorders are now included in the Blue Badge scheme. The extension is more like a clarification of the guidelines – as badges were previously available to people with so-called “invisible disabilities”, but on a case-by-case basis. This left quite a bit of room for interpretation. This holds many benefits for disabled people, carers and families; reduced stress, better inclusivity and improved clarity being just a few.

We do however note that the gov.uk website states the following:

“While the new criteria will give clear and consistent guidelines on Blue Badge eligibility for the whole of England, not everyone with non-physical disabilities will qualify for a badge. It will be up to the relevant local authority to decide if an applicant meets the eligibility criteria, as is currently the case.”

Click here to apply for or renew your Blue Badge.

The extension comes with the launch of a new task force to tackle fraudulent use of the scheme. The government hasn’t clarified exactly what measures will be taken to reduce fraud, but gives the example of encouraging the surrender of badges that are no longer required. Blue Badge theft has also risen since 2013, which has spurred the crackdown.

Are More People Using Blue Badges Now?

Prior to the launch of the updated scheme, there were concerns that disabled parking spaces wouldn’t increase at the same rate as applications. While there’s no official data, Google Trends suggests greatly increased demand for Blue Badge-related content, including applications. Searches peaked on August 30th 2019, but we’ll have to wait for official statistics to be released to make a comparison and check against the current availability of disabled spaces – which is already below requirement.

If You’re not Disabled, Never use Disabled Parking

It should go without saying that non-disabled drivers and passengers should not be using disabled parking bays under any circumstances; but it’s all too common. As James Moore writes in this article, “There can be any number of reasons why people use disabled parking spaces, because there are any number of disabilities – laziness is not one of them.”

When a non-disabled driver uses a disabled parking space, they are actively making life more difficult for someone. It could be the difference between someone being able to do their weekly shop or actually meet a friend for the first time in months.
Even if there are lots of empty disabled parking spaces, it’s still not okay. By the time you’ve finished and vacated the space, it could have become busier. Of course, it’s illegal; but it’s never really enforced heavily and at worst, there’s only a penalty.

It’s never okay, in fact. There’s no excuse for it – even if there aren’t any non-disabed spaces available.

So please, only use disabled parking bays if you have a Blue Badge.

We’re a Different Kind of Law Firm

Aspire Law is a specialist law firm, working for people with SCI. Spinal cord injury can happen at any stage in life, to any person, in any number of ways. We help and support everyone affected by spinal cord injury, with everything from parking to making a claim.

Give us a call on 0800 030 20 40 to see how we can help you.