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Changes to the Blue Badge scheme

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Drastic changes to the Blue Badge system have taken place hoping to make an impact on fraudulent use of the badge.

More than 2.5 million people use disabled parking bays which allows people to park closer to where they are going, however the blue badge is misused and often parking bays can be full.

Tough restrictions have been introduced on drivers who misuse the disabled parking system which is known to be by family members borrowing a relative’s badge or people making copies of the card.

The design of the blue badge has been the same for 40 years and it has now been decided it needs to change to limit the amount of fraud and to move with the times.

The main change to the Blue Badge system will be a new design which will be harder to forge and can be easily checked by parking attendants.

The badge will be electronically printed similar to a driving licence with special security features such as a unique hologram, digital photograph and a serial number.

Transport Minister, Norman baker welcomed the new changes to the scheme saying: “Motorists who pretend to be disabled to get some free parking are frankly disgraceful, they prevent real Blue Badge holders from using parking bays designed for those genuinely in need and they cheat the vast majority of road users who play fair when they park their cars.

“Our new Blue Badge will be as secure as a banknote, we are also tightening up on enforcement and eligibility so there will be no way to scam the system.”

Blue Badge fraud is estimated to cost £46 million a year, it is now hoped the new tough rules will bring the amount of fraud that surrounds the badge down and allow people who need the badge to be a priority.

Other measures that have been introduced are shared administration between authorities making renewals faster, better customer service by allowing people to apply online for a badge, a helpline number will be introduced and from April 2012 customer can report a badge lost or stolen on the internet.

The new procedures have now been introduced which will hopefully cut the amount of money that is spent on catching people misusing the Blue Badge system and will allow people who need the scheme to use it when they need to.

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By Amanda Bainbridge