This week, Transport Minister Paul Clark announced both a crackdown on misuse of Blue Badges and plans to extend the scheme to other people with mobility difficulties who currently do not qualify. These new measures are believed to cost up to £55 million.
The Government is considering giving councils the authority to confiscate stolen or forged Blue Badges on the spot. This power would help to reduce vehicle crime, as well ensuring parking spaces close to vital ammenities are available for those who need it most.
Around 1 in every 200 Badges in circulation is reported as stolen each year.
Two measures have been suggested for helping councils to carry out this task:
1. A £10m national data sharing system to ensure stolen or forged Badges from outside a council’s local area can be easily identified for the first time.
2. The DfT is also looking at new technologies to make Badges harder to forge, including barcodes that can be read through windscreens.
The second action point in the strategy is to extend the Blue Badge scheme to include seriously disabled Armed Forces personnel and veterans, people with temporary but serious mobility problems, young children with specific disabilities and individuals with severe mental impairments; thereby helping more people to retain their mobility and independence in the face of physical and/or mental illness.
Finally, in a bid to standardise assessment for Blue Badges across the country, a new system of assessing eligibility for the Blue Badge is also being developed. This will mean dedicated independent medical assessors, who will ensure that only those who really need a Badge receive one.