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ME Association writes to Devon County Council about their Blue Badge eligibility criteria

The MEA has written to the Chief Executive at Devon County Council about the way in which they are interpreting the official government guidance on Blue Badge eligibility.


Dear Chief Executive,

Devon County Council website information on Blue Badge eligibility criteria

The over simplistic information and guidance on your website regarding Medical Conditions and Blue Badge eligibility criteria is misleading and incorrect in that it fails to include other important ways in which a Blue Badge can be automatically awarded or may be awarded.

Devon County Council Website Information

“Medical conditions

Medical conditions such as asthma, autism, psychological/behavioural problems, Crohn’s disease/incontinent conditions, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) are not in themselves qualifications for a Badge.

People with these conditions may be eligible for a badge but only if they receive Higher Rate Mobility DLA or meet 8 points in the Moving Around activity of Personal Independence Payment, or have very considerable difficulty in walking.

Eligibility for a badge is based on having a permanent and substantial disability which means you are unable to walk or have very considerable difficulty walking, not on the presence or absence of any particular diagnosis or condition.

The government criteria (set out below) make it very clear that there are a number of ways in which people are automatically entitled to have a Blue Badge and a number of ways in which people may be entitled to have a Blue Badge.

It is therefore misleading to state in para 2 and 3 of your website information that people with several named conditions may be entitled to a Blue Badge but only if they fulfil the government eligibility criteria for receipt of DLA or PIP.

Other routes by which people with ME/CFS and other medical or psychological conditions are or may be entitled to have a Blue Badge include making use of a walking aid, finding walking difficult due to pain or breathlessness, and difficulty in planning or following a journey due to cognitive dysfunction.

This information needs to be withdrawn and rewritten so that it correctly reflects government eligibility criteria in relation to situations where eligibility is either automatic or based on an assessment.

As with the government information, it should not single out specific medical conditions – as this is likely to cause confusion.

Yours Sincerely

Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and
Hon. Medical Adviser
to the ME Association.
Member of the 2018-2021 NICE Guideline Committee.
Member of the 2002 Independent Working Group on ME/CFS.

Dr Charles Shepherd

Government Information on Blue Badge Eligibility

People who automatically get a Blue Badge:

  • You automatically qualify for a Blue Badge if you are aged 3 or over and at least one of the following applies:
  • you receive the higher rate of the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • you receive a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) because you can’t walk more than 50 metres (a score of 8 points or more under the ‘moving around’ activity of the mobility component)
  • you are registered blind (severely sight impaired)
  • you receive a War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement
  • you have received a lump sum benefit within tariff levels 1 to 8 of the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces (Compensation) Scheme and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability that causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking
  • you receive the mobility component of PIP and have obtained 10 points specifically for descriptor E under the ‘planning and following journeys’ activity, on the grounds that you are unable to undertake any journey because it would cause you overwhelming psychological distress
  • If you have any score other than 10 points under descriptor E, in the ‘planning and following journeys’ activity of PIP you may still be eligible for a Blue Badge, but you do not automatically qualify. This includes if you have a higher score of 12. You will have to provide evidence to demonstrate your eligibility which will be assessed as part of your application

People who may get a Blue Badge:

You may be eligible for a badge if one or more of the following applies:

  • you cannot walk at all
  • you cannot walk without help from someone else or using mobility aids
  • you find walking very difficult due to pain, breathlessness or the time it takes
  • walking is dangerous to your health and safety
  • you have a life limiting illness, which means you cannot walk or find walking very difficult and have a SR1 form
  • you have a severe disability in both arms and drive regularly, but cannot operate pay-and-display parking machines
  • you have a child under the age of 3 with a medical condition that means the child always needs to be accompanied by bulky medical equipment
  • you have a child under the age of 3 with a medical condition that means the child must always be kept near a vehicle in case they need emergency medical treatment
  • you are constantly a significant risk to yourself or others near vehicles, in traffic or car parks
  • you struggle severely to plan or follow a journey
  • you find it difficult or impossible to control your actions and lack awareness of the impact you could have on others
  • you regularly have intense and overwhelming responses to situations causing temporary loss of behavioural control
  • you frequently become extremely anxious or fearful of public/open spaces
  • Your local council will decide if you are eligible for a badge. They cannot start the assessment process until they have all the necessary evidence. It may take 12 weeks or longer to assess your application. If they decide that you are not eligible and you think that they did not take account of all the facts, you can ask them to consider your application again.
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