News & Features

FOI request reveals disappointing insights into attitudes towards Blue Badge parking

Posted in General News on Thursday, May 5th, 2022

In February 2022 Disabled Motoring UK submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to all local authorities responsible for issuing the Blue Badge in the UK. The responses provided some interesting results.

A total of 207 authorities were contacted in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. FOI requests have a set time scale of 20 working days for the organisation to respond, however many stated that this may take longer due to Covid restrictions. In total we gave local authorities 8 weeks to respond and in this time scale we received back 180 responses. Therefore, this data is based on the 180 responses DMUK received.

The results showed that there are currently 2,710,752 valid Blue Badges issued across the UK. (Our response rate was 87% so a rough estimate for the total including the 27 authorities that didn’t respond would be 3.12 million Blue Badges in circulation in the UK). Total applications over the three year period (Blue Badges are usually valid for 3 years) from 2019-2021 was 2,897,982 meaning that 187,230 applicants were turned down for a Blue Badge, this equates to 6.5% of Blue Badge applications. It is worth noting that there were vast differences between local authorities in numbers of applications that were turned down. Some local authorities approved nearly 100% of applications they received while the London Borough of Redbridge had the lowest approval rating with only 66% applications approved in 2021. Eligibility guidelines are issued centrally from Department for Transport (DfT) to local authorities to use so that they are issuing Blue Badges to the right people. However, these statistics show that there maybe big differences across the country in their interpretation and getting a Blue Badge becomes a ‘postcode lottery’.

Hidden Disabilities

In August 2019 the eligibility criteria in England changed to include people with hidden disabilities. This change did not come in across the UK, but some local authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were issuing and recording this data. The FOI request showed that there are 66,612 people across the country who receive a Blue Badge purely because of a hidden disability. When the criteria changed in 2019 DMUK was concerned that there would be flood of new Blue Badge holders and this would have negative consequences for Blue Badge holders as a whole because there would be more pressure on an already over-subscribed parking provision. It seems to us that this figure shows that the new criteria is being administered in the right way and we’ve not seen anywhere near the increase in Blue Badge holders that we predicted because of it.

Abuse and Misuse

The FOI request asked questions about abuse of the scheme. DMUK was alarmed to see that many local authorities do not record reports of misuse and abuse of the scheme. Only 57% of authorities that responded recorded this data and those that did seemed to have very few reports. It makes us wonder that even those that do record this data aren’t taking it seriously enough. According to our FOI request there were only 4815 reports of misuse across the entire UK in 2021. We’d encourage anybody who feels that a Blue Badge may be being abused to get in touch with their local authority so that the problem of misuse and abuse is kept on their radar.

Some local authorities are doing great work in enforcing scheme and holding abusers of it to account. Our FOI request revealed that 585 prosecutions took place in 2021 totalling in £121,507 in fines for abusers and costs totalling £146,661.35.

Blue Badge Parking Review

DMUK asked local authorities when they last reviewed Blue Badge parking provision in their area. These results were shocking as only 46% of authorities (95 authorities) had carried out any kind of review in the last 10 years. For 18 authorities it had been over 10 years since a review had taken place with Bury Borough Council reporting that the last time they reviewed Blue Badge parking was in 1993 - 29 years ago! More alarming than this is that 43 authorities report never carrying out a review of Blue Badge parking provision. The remaining 51 authorities that responded claim they do not hold data of when/if a review has taken place.

Heidi Turner, DMUK Director of Communications and Campaigns, said: “Carrying out the Freedom of Information request to all local authorities in the UK has given the charity some valuable data on Blue Badges and disabled parking across the country. We continue to be disappointed by the lack of enforcement of the scheme and would welcome any local authority to get in touch with the charity if they want to decrease levels of abuse in their area. With numbers of Blue Badge holders increasing it is clear to us that all local authorities need to carry out a full review of their Blue Badge parking provision so they can ensure that demand for parking is met in their local area.”

DMUK would like to thank all local authorities who responded to our FOI request.

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James evans's Gravatar
James evans

Thursday, May, 5th, 2022

My council , Shropshire , has used covid as an excuse to slash the number of disabled parking bays . At weekends they have now blocked all traffic into the town centre (shrewsbury) for all motor vehicles, there is then only 3 blue badge parking bays that can be accessed , which if you gave a physical disability is to far , if you can get one of the bays , to walk to shops They seem to have decided that disabled people are not welcome in town and I now drive 12 miles to Telford do I can go to my bank or shopping

Robert Heywood's Gravatar
Robert Heywood

Thursday, May, 5th, 2022

Why am I not surprised that local authorities do not enforce blue badge misuse? I am fed up with people using spaces that should be reserved for people with disabilities being marginalised by those people who are quite capable of walking the few extra feet and park in the non disabled areas. The excuse of 'I only popped into the shop for 5 minutes' is not acceptable. My local authority is quite smug about the fact that they have the 'correct' number of disabled spaces per car park, unfortunately the correct number is nothing like adequate and the misuse of these spaces is not in any way monitored. It Isn't just able bodied people who are misusing the system either. I frequently see someone who is disabled sitting in the car when someone who is able bodied goes into the shops (and yes I do realise that not all disabilities are visible). In your report you suggest that we report abuse, perhaps you can tell me who to (as the local authority and police are not interested) and how would we be able to identify the abuser as the photo of the user is on the wrong side of the badge. It should be made a traffic violation with point added to the licence for offenders.

John Roberts's Gravatar
John Roberts

Friday, May, 6th, 2022

It really proves me when I see commercial vehicles using disabled spaces, if I parked in a loading bay I would get a ticket yet the commercial vehicle gets away with it also the number of cars I see in disabled bays without a blue badge. I accept that sometimes a person just forgets to take the badge from the door pocket of glove box but I sure most are not badge holders. I also believe the arbitrary 3hour limit should lifted.


Wednesday, May, 11th, 2022

There seems to be a major abuse of Disabled Bays in private car parks for example where Tradesmen park to pick up supplies. 'DIY and Trade Suppliers' for example, you know who they are.

Peter Machin's Gravatar
Peter Machin

Wednesday, May, 11th, 2022

It is obvious that Blue Badges are no longer enforced in Wakefield but more importantly there is no review of Disabled parking and in certain places the disabled are being kept out of shopping areas etc. The whole system requires reviewing as a matter of some urgency. Doctors surgery parking also requires reviewing urgently.

Elaine Bowell's Gravatar
Elaine Bowell

Tuesday, May, 17th, 2022

I'm sick and tired of them making paralell parking bays in our area where they don't mark out the space to allow for me to get in via my rear ramp. Other disabled users park too close, or people using blue badge when the holder is not present, or commercial vehicles parking behind me to pick up their lunch or run to the bank have left me waiting for them to return to vehicles and with no apology and no safe place to wait as there either aren't drop curbs by the bays or not enough safe space for me to sit and wait in my wheelchair without me sitting in the road. Nobody ever seems to get reprimanded or ticketed in West Oxfordshire and why should I be beholden to others that are inconsiderate or breaking the rules. If you can't judge the 3 metres i need, that is clearly showing on 2 stickers on my vehicle, then don't park there even if you are 'just popping to the bank'. I'm frankly sick of it and people's attitudes when it is very obvious why i have a wheelchair accessible vehicle.

John Morris's Gravatar
John Morris

Tuesday, May, 17th, 2022

I was interested to see the differences in councils that seemed serious about disabled parking and joined in the survey at such a bust time however i have had a terrible experience with my local counsil the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Their parking section sent an agent to the road where i live just a road with lopts of hopuses in a nice area and no shops or commercial things that may attract people who would look to cause trouble over blus badges. I was made aware by neighbours who phoned to tell me that there was a parking agent putting a ticket on my motability car in my disabled parking outside my front door. When iwent outside the man hadgone and put a ticket on my car i could see no other cars nearby with tickets. A week or 2 later i was in my local co-op a msall shop in plumstead common road I have live near this shop for 5o years and i knew the parking situation Another customer shouted to me i was getting a ticket at 2.p.m. i can park there during the times when schools are working and after 4.p.m.. I have tried for a year to get GHreenwich council to allow me to make a complaint about parking.During that time i was charged more money for not paying and even though i was not allowed to complain as the constitution allows i ended up having to pay nearly £200 for this as they continued to see me as guilty as they would not allow me to complain. I would be interested to know if they appeared to be good councils for disabled people

Barry O’Connell's Gravatar
Barry O’Connell

Tuesday, May, 17th, 2022

I live in Clacton-On-Sea,Essex. In 2016 Tendring Council did a full review of blue badge bays in our town. They increased the bays, but? There is no legislation to provide bays to unload wheelchairs, now when the council as I said increased blue badge bays, I could not use them why? Because walking blue badge holders ignore please leave ten feet signs and I am a wheelchair user. Result is like this, at a bay in the centre of my town , I had to drive my WAV out into the road, to load my chair into my vehicle. The anger was huge towards me. Abuse poured out again to me, the more shouting ,the more abuse I went slower, Surely the time to petition the Minister of transport to have wheelchair bays. Those who can walk seem to show no respect to wheelchair users

Shaun knox's Gravatar
Shaun knox

Tuesday, May, 17th, 2022

I live in Balham SW12 0ef I shop at Waitrose and they are very vigilant with their disabled bays