Travel covers a variety of issues, from blue badges to self-travel skills
On this page you can find information and links on the following:
- Blue Badge
- Concessionary Travel
- Hospital Travel Costs
- Road Tax Exemption
- Road Safety
- School Transport
- Self Travel Skills
The Blue Badge scheme is for people who are unable to walk or virtually unable to walk due to severe mobility problems. Blue Badges can be issued to children, adults and organisations if they provide care, and to people or children who have no sense of danger due to their disability.
The Blue Badge holder can be either the driver of the vehicle or a passenger. It is illegal to use a Blue Badge if the badge holder is not in the vehicle. Blue Badge holders can park in designated parking bays giving easier access to facilities.
Check eligibility here
Apply for a blue badge online here
If you are unable to apply online, you can book an appointment at a local Council office. To make an appointment please call 01506 280150
Young people with a physical disability can apply for their provisional driving licence at 16 instead of 17, though they cannot hold a full licence until they are 17. Funding for driving lessons can sometimes be obtained through the ILF fund, or Motability, depending on income and family circumstances.
SDA Scottish Driving Assessment Service
This service assesses people with a medical condition or disability to ensure that they are capable of driving, and can advise on adaptations to help, or instructors who specialise in teaching disabled people. Assessments are carried out at the Astley Ainslie hospital in Edinburgh.
To access the service you must ask your GP to write to them giving brief details of medical details relevant to driving. Young people can be seen shortly before reaching the age when they require a provisional licence. There is sometimes a waiting list to be seen, so apply just before the child’s 16th birthday.
Marlene Mackenzie, Service Manager,
Scottish Driving Assessment Service,
Astley Ainslie Hospital,
133 Grange Loan,
Edinburgh EH9 2HL
Tel. 0131 537 9192
Driving lessons and instructors
The Scottish Driving Assessment Service holds lists of specialist instructors for each area of Scotland.
We also know of a local instructor with experience of teaching young people with autism:
If you or your child gets higher rate mobility component, then you may be able to lease a car or wheelchair/electric scooter through the Motability scheme.
For full details, visit Motability at: motability.co.uk
Telephone: 0300 456 4566 (Mon-Fri, 8am to 8pm & Sat 9am to 5pm)
Road Safety Scotland have a range of resources that support children and young people with additional support needs to understand Road Safety.
This pocket guide describes all the things a young person must understand before they will be safe around roads. You can download the PDF below –
National Entitlement card
You can apply online for disabled concessionary travel using a National Entitlement Card, or young people between the ages of 5 and 21 can apply for a card, or have travel added to their existing Young Scot card, depending on their age – see this guidance.
Note that disabled travellers may be eligible for a +1 companion card, which allows someone to travel with them. In this case, you need to apply here. However, these cards expire and have to be renewed when your documents proving your disability run out, so if your child is age 5-21 they may be better off with the young person’s free travel card, which does not expire.
The card can be used on most local bus services in West Lothian and also long-distance and in other areas of Scotland.
West Lothian Council also offers discounted rail fares to NEC cardholders travelling from West Lothian Stations on ScotRail train services.
Scotrail also sometimes offers concessions such as children travelling free with adults during the summer holidays, so it is worth keeping a lookout.
Hospital Travel Costs
If you or your child travel to hospital for NHS treatment you may be entitled to help with necessary travel costs. This includes check-ups and visits to clinics for treatment of sexually transmissible infections.
You can get help:
- if you are getting a qualifying benefit(s)
- if you are entitled to help through the NHS Low Income Scheme
- for your companion if you qualify for help and, for medical reasons, you need a companion to travel with you – their travel costs are added to your travel costs and it’s your income that counts
- if you are 16 or over but under 20 and are counted as a dependant of someone getting help (on the basis of a qualifying benefit) or through the NHS Low Income Scheme – otherwise you can make your own claim, even if you live with your parents
If a child under 16 is the patient, it is their parents’ income that counts. If someone else takes them to hospital, it is still the parents’ income that counts. If you are not sure what travel costs you can get help with, ask the hospital before you travel.
There is also the Young Patients Family fund, which pays for visits to in-patients.
Road Tax Exemption
You claim the exemption when you apply for vehicle tax. To claim the exemption or reduction the vehicle must be registered in the disabled person’s name or their nominated driver’s name.
It must be only be used for the disabled person’s personal needs. That means the vehicle can’t be used by the nominated driver for their own personal use. You can only have one vehicle tax exemption or reduction at any one time.
You can apply for exemption from paying vehicle tax if your child gets the:
- Higher Rate mobility component of Child Disability Payment (CDP)
- Enhanced Rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
You can get a 50% reduction in vehicle tax if your child gets the PIP standard rate mobility component. You can’t get a reduction for getting the CDP lower rate mobility component.
This page explains the rules in more detail.
Travelling by themselves is a skill that many young people will be able to learn, with time, and it will make a great deal of difference to their independence and self-confidence. Patience and preparation are the keys to success.
It is difficult to find organisations that can help with self-travel, but this guide from Hertfordshire gives a good summary of the key principles and strategies parents need to help their young person succeed.
Another guide (American) takes a different approach, considering some of the key ‘lessons’ that young people and their trainers may need to learn to complement their ability to travel independently, such as identifying which people are safe to ask for help, and appropriate dress and behaviour.
You may be able to negotiate with Social Work for a Self Directed Support payment to pay someone to help your young person practice self-travel, if you’re unable to do it yourself, or the ILF Transition fund may help with this.
The moovit app has some features that might be useful, including turn-by-turn directions, and automatic notifications when you reach your stop on bus/tram journeys, but check its accuracy before relying on it!
Special needs transport to and from school – information can be found on our Education page