News & Features

Disappointing levels of Blue Badge Enforcement

Posted in General News on Thursday, November 29th, 2018

One of DMUK’s important campaigns is encouraging Local Authorities to make sure that the Blue Badge Scheme is properly administered and enforced. The Blue Badge Statistics for 2017/18 released on 29 November 2018 reveal, yet again, that the majority of local authorities in England are not taking abuse of the scheme seriously.

There are now 2.35 million Blue Badges held in England. This figure has decreased each year since the reforms of the Blue Badge application process in 2011/12. DMUK took part in these reforms and is pleased that the decrease in the number of badges being issued suggests that they are now only being granted to the people that meet the criteria. However, this trend could change when the changes to the eligibility criteria to include people with hidden disabilities comes into affect.

Included in the Blue Badge is the number of prosecutions for misuse of the Blue Badge scheme. The statistics look at Local Authorities in England in the period year ending 31st March 2018. The number of prosecutions for misuse during this period was 1251, compared with 1131 prosecutions which took place the previous year. 99% of cases were against non-disabled people using another person’s Blue Badge.

Is there more Blue Badge misuse?

This figure would seem to suggest that there is more Blue Badge misuse than the previous year. DMUK believes this is not the case and it is just that more local authorities are starting to take the matter seriously and are enforcing the scheme properly. The number of local authorities that have a ‘yes’ prosecution policy in the latest survey is 59%, compared to the previous year which was 56%. This suggests that local authorities are moving in the right direction when it comes to using proper enforcement.

Reading between the figures

What is disappointing, however, is that out of the 59% of councils that have a ‘yes’ policy, when it came to prosecution only 65% of this group actually prosecuted one or more person. So only two thirds of the councils that say they have a ‘yes’ to prosecution policy actually use this policy to enforce the scheme. What is the point in having a policy if it isn’t going to be used? Furthermore when you look at the total number of authorities surveyed only 38% undertook prosecutions, meaning that 62% of local authorities in England are not using enforcement.

Graham Footer, DMUK CEO, says: “Even though enforcement of the scheme is moving in the right direction, it is disappointingly slow. We want to see all local authorities improve the integrity of the scheme by enforcing it properly and prosecuting people who abuse the Blue Badge. DMUK has deep concerns about the potential increase in numbers of Blue Badge holders when the changes to the eligibility criteria come in affect. DMUK took part in the consultation and raised concerns over the possible affect the expansion would have on already limited disabled parking. DMUK urged the Department for Transport  to be realistic in its thinking. Just extending the criteria will not necessarily mean that more disabled people will benefit. Actually this change may have disastrous consequences for all Blue Badge holders, including people new to the scheme, as there is simply not enough parking to meet demand and concessions could soon disappear because of increased numbers. On a number of occasions DMUK has asked DfT to be part of the stakeholder group addressing the impact of the eligibility changes, but to date no invitation has been received.”

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