William Eichler 24 October 2019

Council broke its own blue badge assessment policy, Ombudsman finds

Sheffield City Council has agreed to review its process for dealing with blue badge applications after an investigation revealed it was breaking its own policy.

An investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found that 25 people had been refused a blue badge by the council without being offered a face-to-face assessment.

The investigation, which started with a complaint from a woman with arthritis who was turned down without being offered a face-to-face assessment, found the council was going against its own policy as well as the Government’s guidance.

‘This investigation highlights the dangers of using a box-ticking approach to assessing peoples’ eligibility for council services. In this case a number of people were denied the opportunity to be observed and have their walking ability properly assessed,’ said Ombudsman Michael King.

The council has agreed to apologise to the woman, arrange an assessment by an independent physiotherapist, and pay her £250 for her time and trouble. It will also contact the other 25 people affected to offer them assessments by a physiotherapist.

‘This case also emphasises the power of complaints to help improve services,’ said Mr King.

‘I welcome the way the council has responded to our investigation and the steps it is taking to put things right for all the people affected, and to avoid similar problems recurring.’

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