Wokingham has its own process for applying for a blue badge online, which requires you to have an account on the council website and to fill out an enormous form. A number of people have reported issues with the form. There is a national process available on the gov.uk website which is far more straightforward to use. I have been told that at some stage Wokingham plans to stop having its own process and to use the government one instead. How quickly can that be made to happen, so that people who need blue badges can have an easier time applying for them?
Wokingham has its own process for applying for a Blue Badge online, which requires you to have an account on the Council website and to fill out an enormous form. A number of people have reported issues with the form. There is a national process available on the Gov.uk website which is far more straightforward to use. I have been told that at some stage Wokingham plans to stop having its own process and to use the Government one instead. How quickly can that be made to happen, so that people who need Blue Badges can have an easier time applying for them?
I think that this answer has been missed in the system, so I will have to give you a written answer.
Note: The following written answer was subsequently provided:
Customers can currently access the Blue Badge service via several channels: Online via the WBC or Gov.uk website, face to face, over the telephone, or if requested via a paper form.
The Department for Transport (DfT) require local authorities to request certain details from customers when applying for a blue badge, and the form they provide is lengthy (20 pages). In developing the online system, we reviewed all of the questions and made sure that customers were only presented with the questions relevant to them, dependent upon their answers.
The online form that we currently use times out if people do not complete the form in a timely fashion. This is to protect personal data should they be using a shared computer. We were looking to introduce a ‘Save’ option so that customers could revisit the form before submission. However, we have been informed by the Department of Transport that they are introducing a new online system in January 2019 – this is as result of extending the Blue Badge scheme to those with hidden disabilities from January 2019. This means that we will need to review the whole process, including integration with the DfT system so that inefficiencies do not arise from manual re-keying of lengthy applications. We will be directing customers to the DfT system in the future, and currently this is in the development stage, but are working to the January timescale set by the DfT.
Between January - August 2018, 952 customers have applied successfully online – which is 56% of all applications – the remaining customers have had support from the team, either face to face, over the telephone or paper (13 paper applications received this year to date). We have received huge amounts of very good feedback about the application process, and the option to move away from the lengthy paper form. Our system gives customers an instant decision, in most cases, (the Government system does not) which helps to manage the volume of 180+ applications that we receive into the team each month. This is set to rise with the introduction of the new hidden disabilities criteria. Customers currently receive badges far quicker than before as there is less processing to do when it reaches us. Since 2016, when the system went live, we have received a very low number of complaints – maybe two or three – but have always been able to resolve them to the customers’ satisfaction.
It is really important that we are accessible to all, so will continue to listen and act on customer’s feedback where we can, to make sure their experience is a good one.
We are changing our processes, to use the Gov.UK site ultimately. How much effort has been put into looking at using other sites and resources other than providing information and processes ourselves, in order to save resources?
We provide it ourselves where it is most appropriate and if it is more appropriate to use something else we will do that.