Sheffield City Council found causing ‘injustice’ after injured man denied blue badge

Sheffield City Council was found “incorrectly” interpreting the guidance when refusing a man’s application for a blue badge, the ombudsman found.

A man – who is merely named “Mr X” – had applied for a blue badge in January 2023 following an incident in which he had hurt his ankle, a report summarising the complaint stated.

An occupational therapist (OT) who had to determine his eligibility for the document found out that Mr X had had multiple surgical procedures following his injury.

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The report added: “He said he had 80 per cent movement in his foot and could not walk far without his ankle hurting badly.

“He reported having fallen on uneven ground because his foot does not rotate making him trip. Mr X explained he wanted a blue badge so he could park closer to places to avoid the pain of walking too far.”

However, the OT had “observed” Mr X walking 60 to 90 metres per minute at a “normal pace” without stopping, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s report said.

It added: “The OT concluded that, given the observed mobility and reported level of function, Mr X was able to walk for at least 80 metres. Accordingly, she refused the application and wrote to Mr X explaining this.”

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It was reported that Mr X then requested a review of the decision claiming he was in “constant pain” and this affected his mental health and was living with depression and PTSD – the complainant said the OT had been informed of this but she didn’t mention it in her report.

The report said the council wanted more information about the situation but the hospital replied “sorry, consultant involved not able to complete – try GP”.

The council had then told the complainant that the consultant “was not able to support the application” therefore it cannot re-assess his application and the original decision to refuse the blue badge.

The ombudsman said its role was not to decide whether Mr X was eligible for the blue badge but to determine whether the Council followed the correct process in reaching its decision.

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The ombudsman found that the council had incorrectly interpreted the guidance.

It said: “When responding to Mr X’s review request, the council told him his consultant ‘did not support his application’. This is incorrect. The consultant did not state that he did not support the application but simply that he could not complete the form and suggested Mr X’s GP was asked instead.

“I find the council was at fault in failing to explain the correct position to Mr X and give him the opportunity to obtain supporting information from his GP instead. As Mr X had provided other supporting evidence with his application the council could have accepted evidence from the GP.

“Given that Mr X has taken the time to complain to us, I consider that, on a balance of probability, if the council had given him the opportunity it is likely he would have sought evidence from his GP to support his application.

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“Failure to allow Mr X the opportunity to do so caused him an injustice as he was denied the opportunity to have all relevant information considered.”

The ombudsman added the council had agreed to invite Mr X to submit information from his GP in support of his application within a month (the complaint was upheld on January 17 but only published in recent weeks) and it would then re-assess the application.