Cllr Tim Brett, Leader of the Fife Council Liberal Democrat Group, has expressed concern about the significant delays that occurred earlier in the year regarding the issuing of blue badges to disabled people.
Cllr Brett said, ‘My attention was drawn to this situation in May, so I contacted the staff who deal with the blue badge scheme. At that stage the backlog of cases to be dealt with was significant with, at one point, over 1,500 applications requiring to be processed. I am, however, pleased to say that these delays have largely now been resolved.’
Cllr Brett explained that new regulations that tightened up on the qualifying criteria to the blue badge scheme, which covers nearly 20,000 disabled people in Fife, had been introduced by the Scottish Government. ‘As badge renewal is every 3 years, there are, in total, about 6,300 applications that have to be renewed but because there had been staffing difficulties there were very significant delays in May, June and July. Currently, it should take 14 days for desktop assessments to be completed, though a smaller number of individuals will then be requested to have an individual mobility assessment. Unfortunately, there is still a backlog in dealing with some of these applications as there are only two part-time occupational therapists to carry out the assessments.
The eligibility criteria are not based on any particular disease or age but apply to those who are virtually or unable to walk.’
Cllr Brett added, ‘Whilst I am pleased that we have now caught up on this backlog, I am disappointed that I and other elected members were not kept informed of progress relating to this. I have therefore raised my concerns with the Head of Transportation and the Executive Director for Enterprise and Employment. I know that a large number of complaints were made during this period by Elected Members, MP’s and MSP’s, as well as the families of clients themselves. I hope that this problem will now not recur because the Blue Badge Scheme is highly valued by all those who use it and it is important that the Council provides an efficient and sympathetic service.’