Blue badge ‘life line’ could be taken away
February 11, 2013
A mum of two autistic children has condemned plans by the Government which will make it tougher for her to gain a disabled blue badge.
Under new Government welfare reforms the parking concession permits will be linked to a new personal independence payment (PIP) which will replace disability living allowance (DLA) in April.
This has a much narrower criteria for eligibility which will make it increasing difficult for people with autism and their carers to get a blue badge, even those assessed as having mobility needs.
Jo-Anna Dem, 45, of Carsdale Close, Coley Park, fears losing the badge which she claims has been a lifeline in caring for her autistic sons Adama, aged 10, and eight-year-old Gabriel.
She said: “Having a blue badge makes life a lot easier. It makes all the difference to be able to park closer to where we are going.
“It helps me to keep both my boys safe. They also have ADHD [attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder] as well and are very impulsive and can bolt off without any warning so it reduces a lot of the stress. There are a lot of things that can happen. One of my boys can refuse to get out of the car and then you have the public thinking you are a bad parent as well.
“It took me a long time to get my blue badge. I was refused twice, and the third time I involved a councillor and also got a letter from a clinical psychologist, so it was really difficult to get.
“With the dynamic of my boys it is very difficult to control their behaviour when you’re out, and being able to park closer to the supermarket or somewhere gives me more leeway to get them straight in with less worry.
“I do not know if I could guarantee their safety without it.”
This week the National Autistic Society (NAS) called on ministers to listen to those with autism and their families and for blue badges to be given where it is deemed a necessity.
It said more than 700 people affected by autism responded to a consultation by the Department for Transport last year stressing the importance that blue badges make to their daily lives.
The charity believes existing local authority guidance is unclear on eligibility but implies that certain groups of disabled people including people with autism should not be issued with a blue badge.
It reads: “Medical conditions such as asthma, autism, psychological/ behavioural problems, Crohn’s disease/incontinent conditions and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) are not in themselves a qualification for a badge. People with these conditions may be eligible for a badge, but only if they are in receipt of HRMC DLA on account of their condition or are unable to walk or have very considerable difficulty in walking.”
NAS head of campaigns Tom Madders said: “The Government’s decision to ignore the voices of more than 700 people living with autism who responded to their consultation is extremely disappointing.
“Tightening the criteria will make it extremely difficult for anyone with autism to receive a blue badge, something which thousands of families rely on to be able to safely get out and about in their communities.
“A blue badge can be a lifeline for people with a non-physical disability and the Government’s refusal to take this into account is deeply frustrating.”