Recommendations to make Bracknell Forest’s blue badge application process clearer, easier and more suitable for a wider range of people, were approved at the meeting of the council’s Executive on Tuesday 21 September.
The changes are designed to help applicants and assessors use complicated information in a simpler way.
The approved recommendations are to:
- look at blue badge refusal letters to make sure they show understanding and are easy to understand
- create local guidance that explains the Bracknell Forest approach to assessment
The review was prompted by reports of a BBC survey which compared approval rates for blue badge applications for visible and non-visible disabilities. Reports on the data suggested that Bracknell Forest’s disparity in approval rates was one of the highest in the country.
However, the review found that the data set was not complete as it represented only 50% of the 216 councils who were asked for data. This means that Bracknell Forest’s national position could not be accurately stated and comparisons across the country were incorrect.
Cllr Mike Gibson, Chair of the Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Panel, said:
“This review has found areas where improvements can be made, and the opportunities we have considered will make the application process easier and more suitable for a wider range of people.
“That said, inaccurate and misleading reporting can be distressing for the public and undermines the good work of local government. This review has put our blue badge rates in context and I am pleased to be able to reassure residents about our performance and acknowledge the hard working social care staff of the council.”
Councillors from Overview and Scrutiny made the recommendations following a review into the blue badge application process. The review considered differences between visible and non-visible disabilities, and whether any changes could be made to improve the process for both groups.
The review panel heard from residents with experience of applying for a blue badge, local press and council officers responsible for the process. They also heard from a local support organisation, and from other councils about their approaches.
For more information, view the reports on the Executive meeting agenda.