William Eichler 29 June 2023

Older people struggling to apply for Blue Badges, charity warns

Older people struggling to apply for Blue Badges, charity warns image
Image: richardjohnson / Shutterstock.com.

Local authorities need to do more to help older people who might not be ‘computer savvy’ apply for Blue Badges and access other digital services, charity says.

A new survey by Age UK found that only 13 of the charity’s local organisations said it was easy for people who are offline to find out about and apply for a Blue Badge in their area.

The charity found that while most councils have alternative ways of applying for a Blue Badge, these are often not promoted.

Around one in five (22%) people aged 65 plus – equivalent to 2.7 million people – do not use the internet, while others only use it in limited ways.

Many councils signpost people who are not online to seek help with Blue Badges from voluntary organisations such as Age UK, the charity found.

Around two-thirds of the organisations taking part in the poll reported that older people are also having difficulties accessing other council services – particularly housing related services – if they cannot do so online.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: ‘The digitisation of local services is accelerating but it’s important for councils to remember that not everyone is online. In fact, millions of older people are not computer users at all and are at serious risk of being excluded from services and support to which they are just as entitled as everyone else.’

Responding to the report, Cllr James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), said: ‘Digitising application processes can make it easier and more convenient for many residents to use, and enables councils to speed up delivery of many services. However, councils are also working hard to ensure this is not at the expense of older people who are not online.

‘Councils have taken steps to ensure those who are digitally excluded can access services such as applying for a Blue Badge. This includes assistance offered by staff with the application process in council facilities, including libraries, community centres and council offices.’

Cllr Jamieson added that councils had received ‘little strategic guidance from the Government’ when it came to tackling digital exclusion in their communities.

A report published today by the House of Lords communications and digital committee warned that the Government had ‘no credible strategy’ to tackle digital exclusion.

If this story was of interest, then check out, 'Why councils should worry about digital exclusion'.

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