I have today announced the publication of a consultation document looking at a number of ways of making the blue badge scheme more secure and ensure it continues to benefit those who need it. We are consulting on the eligibility criteria for the scheme together with better ways of administering and enforcing the scheme in order to cut down on levels of abuse.
I have also announced today the publication of revised local authority guidance for England and the launch of a new £500,000 Blue Badge Centres of Excellence Fund, to promote best practice and improve consistency on the administration and enforcement of the scheme.
Blue Badge Scheme
The Disabled Person’s Parking Badge Scheme (“The Blue Badge Scheme”) was introduced in 1971 to provide parking close to essential amenities and services for people with severe mobility problems.
The scheme is designed to help severely disabled people to travel independently, as either a driver or a passenger, by allowing them to park close to their destination.
In May 2007 an independent consultant, Rob Smith, was commissioned to conduct a review of the blue badge scheme.
The final report has been published today and is available on the DfT website at: www.dtf.gov.uk/transportforyou/access/bluebadge and addresses the following issues:
Eligibility (who should qualify for the scheme?)
Concessions (which concessions should apply?)
Better administration (how can the scheme be more consistently administered and enforced?) and;
Choice and alternatives within the scheme
We are now consulting on a number of issues that arose from the report. The Department’s draft response to the review, that is included as part of the consultation document published today, reflects our preliminary thinking and is designed to help us to modernise the scheme within the context of current transport policy; making it more consistently administered, tougher on fraud and easier to understand. The Department will be working closely with stakeholders, including disabled groups, throughout the consultation period.
The consultation document includes proposals to:
Extend the reach of the scheme, for example, ensuring more parents of severely disabled children are eligible for a badge;
Give parking attendants the power to confiscate on the spot blue badges that have been stolen, forged or are being fraudulently used;
Improve the security of the badge design to prevent forgeries;
Create a system of national data sharing, to help identify blue badge cheats;
Launch a public awareness campaign to increase understanding of the scheme.
The consultation also asks if individual local authorities should be given the opportunity to run aspects of the scheme in a way that responds to local circumstances.
The final date for responses to be received by the DfT is 17 April 2008. The full consultation document is available on the DfT website at: www.dft.gov.uk/consultations
The results of the consultation exercise will aid us in the publication of a comprehensive “Blue Badge Reform Strategy” in spring 2008.
Revised local authority guidance and Blue Badge Centres of Excellence Fund
Revised local authority guidance for England has been published today and is intended to improve assessment and enforcement of the scheme, in order to promote fairness and prevent fraud and abuse.
The revised guidance, that is available on the DfT website at: www.dft.gov.uk/transportforyou/access/bluebadge showcases good practice in administering and enforcing the Scheme.
The DfT are now looking to appoint a number of local authorities to act as centres of excellence in relation to the scheme. £500,000 has been made available to fund a small set of English local authorities to improve their services and share their good practice with neighbouring authorities in the 2008-09 financial year.
Copies of the consultation document, and other related documents, have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and are also available on the Department’s website at: www.dft.gov.uk. Further copies of the consultation document can also be obtained from the Vote Office.