A recent report by Age UK sets out the difficulties older people face when trying to apply for a Blue Badge and other local public services if they are not ‘computer savvy’
Age UK warns that local councils need to do more to improve access to and provision of public services for those not online, a cause that the NPC is taking up through its Connections for All campaign.
The report found that most local authorities now strongly encourage people to access services digitally and in some cases do not offer offline alternatives at all, or not in a way that makes them easy to find and access.
Age UK found that:
• In most areas there is strong encouragement to access council services digitally which risks excluding people who do not use the internet.
• One in six (10) Age UKs told us people needed to use the internet in order to apply for a Blue Badge in their area.
• While most Age UKs said there was at least one offline way of applying for a Blue Badges (using a paper form, by telephone and/or through a face-to-face appointment), often these are not promoted. Only 13 (less than a quarter) organisations said it was easy for people who are offline to find out about and apply for a Blue Badge in their area.
• Many councils encourage people to seek help with Blue Badges from organisations such as Age UK which is placing additional strain on already hard-pressed services. In some cases, older people could apply without being dependent on others if councils offered easy to use alternatives to the online system.
• Around two-thirds of respondents told us that people are also having difficulties accessing other council services if they cannot do so online. Housing related services were mentioned most frequently although some said all council services were hard to access offline.
• We acknowledge that local authorities are under great financial pressures, but they need to make sure that their services are fully accessible. We hope that this survey will encourage councils to review their systems and work with local organisations to ensure that all their services are available to everyone.
• While there will always be a need for suitable alternatives to online access, some older people are able to gain digital skills with appropriate support. Digital inclusion services run by Age UKs and other organisations can help people safely engage in the digital world.
Download the report