A newly released BBC investigation reveals people with invisible disabilities face a shocking disparity when applying for a Blue Badge parking permit, but that's not the only struggle people with disabilities have been facing during the pandemic.
Disparity in Blue Badge Parking Permit Assignations
In 2019, the Department for Transport worked with specialists to expand the badges eligibility criteria to include people with invisible disabilities, described as those "who cannot walk as part of a journey without considerable psychological distress or the risk of serious harm". Each relevant local authority decides if an applicant meets the eligibility criteria but those decisions have not been fair for many.
The BBC Shared Data Unit obtained Freedom of Information Act responses from councils across the UK. This data shows drastically lower approval rates for applicants with invisible conditions compared to those with physical impairments.
What do councils say?
Councils with the most considerable disparity between approval rates said that they had followed government guidance and assisted applicants with providing supporting medical evidence.
PIP Assessment Struggles during the lockdown
The PIP test is what the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) use to decide whether you are entitled to Personal Independence Payment.
People with a disability and their carers have often complained online about how stressful dealing with PIP assessments during the pandemic has been. Some have seen their support taken away, while others have had to appeal and fight for their loved one's allowance to be reinstated.
A popular opinion amongst the internauts is that the system is extremely complicated on purpose, as an attempt to discourage anyone who might be lying about their condition. The feeling is that they don't take into account those who are genuinely disabled and need it to be easy.
The stressful bureaucracy didn't help individuals struggling with anxiety and fear while shielding and isolating for months due to the virus.
Safeguarding Mental Health during the pandemic
Carers of both children and adults with intellectual disability had significantly greater feelings of defeat/entrapment, anxiety, and depression during lockdown. Differences were 2–3 times greater than reported in earlier pre‐pandemic studies. Positive correlations were found between objective stress scores and all mental health outcomes. Despite their more significant mental health needs, carers of those with an intellectual disability received less social support from various sources, according to a study published in October 2020 by JARID, the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities.
Have you experienced any of the above struggles? We would love to hear your thoughts about these subjects.