We have been made aware that people applying for, and renewing, Blue Badges have been asked to attend face to face assessments. This is clearly concerning during a global pandemic when many people have still not recieved a vaccine. Requiring a face to face assessment during a pandemic means people must choose between applying for their Blue Badge or risking their health. This is a difficult choice with potentially life threatening consequences.
We are concerned that this means Blue Badge applicants are being denied their rights under the Equality Act 2010 and their human rights to dignity, to be safe and to control their own health as set out by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Additionally, toilets will not be available by default, instead they will be locked and applicants are advised not to use them. If you do need to use them, you are required to ask a member of staff. This additional time means anyone affected by urgency may find themselves in the undignified situation of having an accident in public. This is an important issue for anyone applying for a Blue Badge on the grounds of conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Of those people who’ve contacted us, a proportion are being asked to come in for an assessment when they cannot prove, through physical assessment, their conditions, for example people eligible because of asthma or frequently becoming extremely anxious or fearful of public/open spaces. Face to face assessments are not a suitable means to assess if someone has these, or similar, conditions and it is unclear how video or phone calls could not obtain such information from applicants. This could be resolved if the Council accepted medical evidence from GPs, however they have said this would not be sufficient.
If the applications don’t go ahead because applicants do not want to risk their health, then their independence and mobility will be restricted and their quality of life will be significantly impacted.
York Disability Rights Forum have contacted the Council and local MPs to raise our concerns.
If this affects you directly, you can make use of our templates to raise a complaint with City of York Council and to let your ward councillor know. Copy and paste the text into an email, adding your own personal details and circumstances. Alternatively download one of the letters and edit in your chosen text editor (Word, Google Docs, Pages, Voice Dream Writer etc.)
Find out more about making a complaint and how to contact your ward councillor on the council website. You may also wish to contact your MP. Depending on where in York you live this will either be Rachael Maskell or Julian Sturdy.