Crackdown on blue badge abuse

  • Up to a million blue badges are being used fraudulently
  • New hologrammed badges with photographs will be issued
  • Councils will get more powers to recover blue badges

A new crackdown to catch people who use disabled blue badges to park fraudulently has been launched by the Department for Transport.

Abuse is rife and the government believes that of the 2.5 million blue badges in the UK around a million are being used by people who have no genuine need for them.

Last year in Leeds, a city council investigation found that more 60% of badges were being misused, while in Newcastle, officials estimated that more than half of the 4,000 blue badges were being used illegally. In Edinburgh 70% of the city's blue badges were being used fraudulently.

One of the greatest problems is when family members of a disabled person think they can use it even without the disabled person being in the car. Others have been known to keep a disabled relative's badge after they have died and investigators have also come across photocopied, stolen and forged badges.

Fraudulent blue badge claims cost the UK an estimated £46m a year and now more people will have to undergo mobility tests to get the badges. There'll also be more independent mobility assessments to make sure those who are applying for blue badges have a genuine need for them.

The new crackdown, which begins in April, also gives councils more powers to recover misused and cancelled badges. New printed badges that will replace the current handwritten badges will feature anti-fraud holograms and photographs.

Blue badges are issued to people registered blind, those who receive a war pensioner's mobility supplement or higher rate disability living allowance, and to other people with mobility problems that have been properly assessed.

A Department for Transport statement said: "Increasing levels of badge fraud mean those who genuinely need to use these parking spaces often find themselves displaced by people who do not."