Impact of COVID-19 on the Blue Badge Scheme

6 April 2020 – Update for the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland and members of the Accessible Travel Steering Group.

Issues

You will be aware that social distancing and isolation measures brought in to tackle the spread of COVID-19 have brought significant challenges for people trying to apply for and renew their Blue Badges, and Local Authorities trying to provide and enforce their Blue Badge schemes.

Transport Scotland recognises that the Scheme helps ensure disabled people’s continued independent access to essential food and health and social care services, and that in the coming months this will remain the case.

Actions Transport Scotland have taken

To help provide certainty for Local Authorities for the service alterations they are having to make, Transport Scotland, UK Department for Transport, the Welsh Government, and NI Department for Infrastructure, have jointly produced and agreed a set of high-level recommendations for Local Authorities:

  • That they conduct only desk-based assessments (e.g. via telephone or video call) for new Blue Badge applications and reapplications, and do not call in applicants for face-to-face appointments.
  • That where they cannot conduct face-to-face assessments they must assure themselves that any interim processes they implement are compatible with considering applications fairly.
  • That where they cannot make a decision without a face-to-face assessment, they should advise that although applications cannot be processed at this time, they will be completed when an appropriate level of assessment can be undertaken.
  • They should not prevent individuals from submitting applications.

Perhaps the most significant piece of new advice is around enforcement. Acknowledging that Local Authorities may have to delay processing new Blue Badge applications and reapplications, and may also have an existing backlog of current applications,  the Scottish Government, in conjunction with COLSA, have supported new British Parking Association (BPA) guidance that Scottish local authority parking teams should not issue Penalty Charge Notices to Blue Badges with an expiry date of 1 January 2020 onwards. This relaxation of enforcement against expired Blue Badges should continue initially until 30 September 2020.

This new guidance, aimed at Local Authority parking teams rather than the public, is available publically for reference: https://www.britishparking.co.uk/COVID-19-Local-Authority-advice

Communications

The Blue Badge Scheme in Scotland is run at a local level by local authorities, not the Scottish Government.

We have supported this guidance and made it available to Local Authorities, but operational decisions will have to be taken locally.

Because of this, we are not carrying out pro-active communications about this guidance, but are keeping key stakeholders such as yourselves up to date, and providing information when requested.

ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL POLICY TEAM

6 April 2020

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