February 16, 2016
Action for M.E. has responded to the Welsh Government consultation on the Blue Badge in Wales, which outlines proposals to include people with temporary mobility impairments within the eligibility criteria.
Currently the Blue Badge Scheme in Wales provides access to services and facilities only for people with permanent mobility impairments.
Our response says: "We agree that the blue badge scheme should be extended to people whose disability may not be permanent, but that does not necessarily make it temporary. In the past a problem faced by people with fluctuating conditions such as M.E. has been the need for the disability to be described as ‘permanent’ in order for them to meet the criteria. As badges last for three years it was expected that the condition would last for at least three years. For people with M.E., their condition is indefinite. The longer someone has had M.E., the more likely it is that it will be considered to be permanent."
We highlight the considerable impact of M.E., and refer to research which demonstrates that people with M.E. experience high levels of functional impairment across physical and mental domains, scoring lower overall on health-related quality of life tests than most other chronic conditions (Hvidberg et al, 2015).
We also disagree with the proposal that local authorities should not have to process applications for a Blue Badge under the discretionary mobility criteria when the applicant has been turned down for welfare benefits that use the same criteria, ie. Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
41% of DLA appeals made between in the UK between January 2011 and August 2013 were found in favour of the claimant, while Citizens Advice Wales has said: “Personal independence payment (PIP) is currently the largest single issue on which people seek our help – higher than all other benefits-related issues and almost double the top debt-related problem. Between April and September 2015 our service has helped 6,748 clients with 17,735 PIP related problems – a 44% increase on the equivalent period last year.”
This suggests that a significant number of claimants are not being assessed accurately for these benefits.