The government is spending £55m over three years in overhauling the Blue Badge parking scheme, including £10m on a data sharing database for local authorities to enable them to tackle rogue badge users.
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For the first time, the government is planning to give local authorities the power to seize stolen or forged Blue Badges. Local authorities currently issue the badges to those with disabilities.
Transport minister Paul Clark said, "Two thirds of councils tell us abuse of the scheme is a major issue, and that around one in every 200 badges in circulation are reported as stolen each year. With forged or stolen badges reportedly being sold on the black market for up to £1,500 a time, it is time to get tough and stop Blue Badge abuse and vehicle crime."
To support immediate confiscation of misused badges, a £10m national data sharing system will be established by councils, to ensure stolen or forged badges from outside their local area can be easily identified for the first time.
The Department for Transport is also looking at new technologies to make the badges harder to forge, including barcodes that can be read through car windscreens.
A new system of assessing eligibility for the Blue Badge is also being developed. This will include dedicated independent medical assessors, who will ensure that only those who really need a badge receive one. This will standardise assessments throughout the country and lighten the workload of GPs, who currently carry out individual assessments in many areas.
In addition, nine councils have been awarded the status 'Centre of Excellence'. This is in recognition of their innovative work in administering and enforcing the Blue Badge scheme. They will share good practice and help to drive up improvements in management of the scheme at other local authorities.