‘Discriminatory’ PIP guidance means thousands could lose blue badges


Disabled people whose mobility is affected by mental health conditions or autism are having their blue parking badges snatched away by local councils in England as a result of the introduction of the government’s new disability benefit.

Government guidance issued after the introduction of personal independence payment (PIP) advises councils how to deal with blue badge applications from disabled people who formerly claimed disability living allowance (DLA) but have now been reassessed for PIP.

Because of this guidance, disabled people who have had a blue badge for many years are now being told they no longer qualify for a blue badge, simply because they have moved from DLA to PIP.

The Department for Transport guidance, published in October 2014, states that it is only those who qualify for the standard or enhanced mobility rates of PIP under the “moving around” criteria – those with physical impairments that mean they cannot walk very far – who should automatically qualify for a blue badge.

Those who qualify for the PIP enhanced mobility rate because they have problems planning and following journeys – including many people with autism and mental health conditions – are no longer automatically entitled to a blue badge, as they were if they claimed the upper mobility rate of DLA for the same reasons.

The updated blue badge application form included in the guidance document has no sections in which disabled people with problems planning and following journeys can provide evidence to show why they need a blue badge.

When asked if the Department for Transport (DfT) had carried out an equality impact assessment of the new guidance, a DfT spokesman said: “Not that I am aware of.”

By noon today (2 June), the DfT press office had been unable to produce an accurate statement that did not contradict the content of its own guidance documents.

Campaigners believe the concerns have taken this long to emerge because most of those affected are long-term DLA claimants with high support needs, who are only now beginning to be reassessed by the Department for Work and Pensions for their eligibility for PIP.

Christine Stringer’s 50-year-old son, who has autism, mental health problems and learning difficulties, has had a blue badge since shortly after leaving school, but it runs out later this month and now needs to be renewed.

But she has been told on the phone by her local authority, Walsall council, that he will no longer be eligible because he has recently been moved from DLA to PIP, even though he still receives the enhanced rate for both mobility and care.

Stringer said: “They rang to say he didn’t qualify because he didn’t have any mobility issues. It was quite a shock after 30 years of having one.

“His behaviour makes him a danger to himself and to others in public spaces. A blue badge has always been helpful for that.”

One of her concerns is that he might be forced to use public transport because he no longer has a blue badge, and that a member of the public might over-react to something he does, which could lead to him being sectioned.

She said: “They are very fond of sectioning people these days. I am just afraid that he may run into trouble as a result of not having a blue badge. I don’t know how we are going to cope.”

She said she believed the changes discriminate against her son and other disabled people in his situation.

Another Walsall parent, Jane Collier Westley, said she feared her 22-year-old daughter, Abigail, would be in the same position as Christine Stringer’s son.

Although Abigail Collier has not been reassessed yet, her mother fears she will lose her blue badge – which she has had since she was about eight – after she is moved to PIP from DLA, even though she is certain to be granted the enhanced mobility rate.

Collier Westley said her daughter had no sense of danger and can “throw tantrums” and “kick off at any time”.

With a blue badge, her family or care workers can be much closer to the car in case there are problems, but she said that losing it would “have a massive impact”.

Walsall council had refused to comment by noon today (2 June).

*This article was amended on 3 June to show that people who receive the standard or enhanced PIP mobility rates under the moving around criteria now receive a blue badge automatically. It previously stated that people had to receive the enhanced PIP mobility rate to qualify automatically.

  • User Ratings (8 Votes)
  • Spoonydoc

    The automatic qualifying criteria for PIP is not the enhanced rate but the standard rate under “moving around”. Anyone who scores at least 8 points in that section automatically qualifies for a blue badge.

    A full consultation into blue badge allocation was made at the time by the Department of Transport with several options being discussed.
    As I recall the bar was dropped to standard rate in the “moving around” category to keep it roughly in line with higher rate DLA (due to the ridiculous “20m rule”).
    It was then claimed that many more people would qualify for high rate PIP through “planning a journey” than under DLA but that many of these did not need a blue badge. Thus the automatic qualification through enhanced PIP mobility for all was abandoned. It was assumed that those who lost their blue badge through automatic qualification would “easily” be able to qualify on an individual case by case basis through their local councils.

    • Yes, you’re right about the eight points, Sarah, that’s my mistake: it’s eight points you need under PIP ‘moving around’ for a blue badge, rather than the enhanced rate. However, the problem still stands: all those people who formerly needed a blue badge for non-walking-related impairments are going to lose out, and there’s nothing in the guidance that suggests otherwise. There is not a single line in the guidance that says to councils that people who qualify for PIP under ‘planning a journey’ should be entitled to the badge…

      • Spoonydoc

        I agree there is a problem. And it stems all the way back to how the DWP has claimed all along that it is “reallocating” money from physical disability to non physical disability in the mobility section of PIP. This is how they justified the so called 20m rule in the court case.

        The Department of Transport’s reaction to this was to say that the “extra” people who would now qualify for the higher rate of PIP (if this really is happening, and I don’t have the statistics to say it is), would not be people who would need a blue badge (whether this is true could also be questioned).
        They then decided that the best course of action was to remove automatic entitlement from everyone. But this of course affects those who previously qualified. Their justification was that they can apply individually. However this introduces a lot of extra paperwork and a postcode lottery.

        My point is that there an awful lot of assumptions being made all along the line here, starting all the way at the top by the DWP and passed on through the Department of Transport and local councils.

        • Agreed! The buck passing has already started. And thanks again for pointing out the error in the story re the 8 points. I’ll correct it today…