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Blue Badge Scheme

Volume 481: debated on Monday 20 October 2008

The Blue Badge (Disabled Parking) Scheme provides a vital lifeline to 2.3 million disabled people in England. The value of the badge, in terms of independence cannot be understated, as 75 per cent. of badge holders say that they would go out less often without a badge.

Having listened to the views of badge holders, the general public and disability groups about how the scheme can be improved, I am today announcing the “Comprehensive Blue Badge (Disabled Parking) Reform Strategy England”. This strategy contains a suite of commitments that will be taken forward over the next five years, that are designed to radically reform the scheme in a manner that is right for the 21st century. Copies of the strategy have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and are available from the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.

I want to ensure that the maximum number of people, who have a genuinely severe disability, can benefit from the scheme. That is why the strategy contains a commitment to extend the scheme to people with certain significant temporary mobility problems (lasting at least one year,) individuals with severe mental impairments, seriously disabled veterans and more children, under three, with specific medical conditions.

Assessments will be made fairer and more consistent—local authorities will receive up to £15 million per year to conduct improved independent medical assessments.

We will explore options for improving the badge renewal process, from a customer perspective, for people with permanent and degenerative disabilities.

Nine local authorities have been awarded the status “Centre of Excellence” in administering and enforcing the scheme. They will receive £500,000 to share good practice and drive up improvements in management of the scheme with other local authorities.

We plan to enable local authorities to charge a badge application fee—which has remained unchanged at £2 since 1983—that is more appropriate to their costs.

Badge holders and motorists are particularly concerned about abuse of the scheme, through theft, forgery or borrowing of disabled badges by non-disabled people. I am committed to preventing this, and the strategy outlines a number of anti-abuse measures.

Up to £10 million will be provided to local authorities, over the next three years, so that they can establish a system of data-sharing to reduce fraudulent misuse of badges. The scope for on the spot seizure of badges being used unlawfully by non badge holders, will be examined. Badge security features will also be improved.

A range of communication activity will take place to highlight the blue badge reform strategy. This will include messages about the impact that abuse has on disabled people.

There is a commitment to support the British Retail Consortium in doing more to tackle disabled parking abuse in their members’ off-street car parks.

Relevant authorities in London will be asked to gather evidence to determine whether parking restrictions currently placed on badge holders visiting central London should be relaxed.

Once the domestic reforms are complete, greater foreign reciprocity of the badge will be explored.

I am also publishing today a summary of responses to the Department’s recent public consultation on the scheme, which will be placed in the House Libraries, and have formally responded to the Transport Select Committee Enquiry on the Blue Badge scheme.