Council rapped over blue badge refusal

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Lancashire County Council has been criticised over its handling of an application for a blue badge for a disabled man.

The council denied the man with Downs Syndrome a Blue Badge without ever assessing him in person, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The man’s father applied to renew the blue badge in September 2017, but was wrongly told by the council that walking difficulties arising from cognitive impairments could not be taken into account when assessing someone for a badge.

The father was told to complete an assessment form which would be examined by Able 2 Occupational Therapy Services, employed by the council to conduct assessments.

Their first application was turned down.

When the father complained, instead of assessing the son in a face-to-face meeting, the company conducted a second paper assessment, and again denied the family the blue badge.

The family complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, which found the council at fault for not offering the face-to-face assessment. The Ombudsman also criticised the council for saying the son would not be eligible because he had cognitive rather than physical difficulties, and because it did not properly consider the variable nature of the son’s condition.

Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: "I would like to apologise to the father for the poor service he received from the council in this case, especially our failure to offer his son a face to face assessment.

"We have agreed to pay him £250 compensation for the time and trouble this has caused him.

"We have also pledged to review the way we deal with applications for blue badges to ensure the process does not discount people with variable conditions and takes into account those with a hidden or non-physical condition which can affect walking ability."