Middlesbrough Council’s Welfare Rights Unit, in partnership with NHS Middlesbrough, is undertaking a targeted take-up drive for all Blue Badge holders aged under 65 who don’t already receive the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance.
Research revealed that around one in ten Blue Badge holders - more than 700 in Middlesbrough alone - are not getting the mobility element of Disability Living Allowance when their level of disability suggests they should be.
The team is now contacting them and putting on extra advice line sessions to deal with the increased demand.
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400 letters have already been sent out, with 50 responses so far. These responses will generate 40 new claims or assistance with reviews of existing awards. That is a staggering 90% of all those responding getting help with applying for benefit.
The response has been such that the 100 letters being sent out a week had to be put on hold for a few weeks but the next batch of 100 letters is going out this week.
Claiming the allowance not only benefits the recipient and helps stimulate the local economy it also simplifies the Blue Badge process. This is because people are automatically entitled to a Blue Badge if they are in receipt of the higher rate of the Disability Living Allowance mobility component so don’t need medical evidence to show they have mobility problems and so there are fewer appeals against the refusal of the badge.
The national Blue Badge scheme is administered locally by the Council, its strategic partner Mouchel and NHS Middlesbrough and provides a range of parking concessions for people with severe mobility problems.
Councillor Barry Coppinger, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Social Care, said: “This successful campaign shows again that many people are simply not claiming all the benefits to which they are entitled.
“I would urge people to get in touch with the Welfare Rights Unit as soon as they receive their letter and for those who haven’t responded yet to think about doing so.
“This is a carefully targeted campaign to ensure people get access to the benefits to which they are rightly entitled.
“It also helps to make the whole scheme more efficient as Blue Badge holders who get the mobility component of DLA automatically qualify therefore saving time and expense getting GPs to provide evidence of disability. “Under the on-going reforms to the welfare system it’s estimated that at least 1,000 working age claimants in Middlesbrough will lose an average of £70 per week DLA when new entitlement tests are rolled out from 2013.
“It is therefore important that disabled people claim this benefit now.”