The Scottish Government has launched its consultation into the Blue Badge Scheme. Capability has broadly welcomed the proposals which we hope will extend the scheme. However we do have some concerns particularly around plans to reduce where and for how long disabled people can park and also about the introduction of a medical assessment to determine eligibility.
Richard Hamer, Director of External Affairs at Capability said:
"Public transport is often not accessible which means that many disabled people have to use a car. But relying on a car is no use if you can't park close to where you're going. The Blue Badge scheme makes this easier for disabled people and Capability therefore welcomes any moves to improve the scheme. We see extending the scheme to cover more disabled people and giving traffic wardens enforcement powers as real improvements.
"However Capability is concerned at the prospect of disabled people having to undergo a medical examination in order to get a blue badge. Once again disabled people are being asked to jump through hoops to prove they are entitled to support.
"While it is important that checks and balances are in place to ensure the system is not abused, we do not want to see people having to constantly prove their disability.
"We know many disabled people are already concerned about the UK government's plans to bring in increased medical checks for people who are applying for benefits. We need more information about whether these assessments could also be used to make decisions about eligibility for things like the Blue Badge scheme or whether disabled people are looking at a future in which they have to undergo numerous medical tests in order to get support with any area of their lives.
"Furthermore we fail to see how reducing the areas where Blue Badge holders can park, and the length of time they can park there can be seen as 'improvements'. Capability urges the Government to rethink plans to remove Blue Badge holder's ability to park on double yellow lines and to limit length of stay on single yellow lines.
"The scheme provides a vital lifeline for more than a quarter of a million disabled people in Scotland. It helps them retain their independence by making it easier to access vital services, visit friends and family, as well as to seek work or education. It therefore mustn't be diminished."