Blue Badge scheme: 30 badge holders per disabled parking space with numbers set to grow

People with hidden disabilities are now eligible for Blue Badges, but councils have no plans to create more disabled spaces

Plans for free blue badges

There are 30 Blue Badge holders for each council-owned disabled parking space in the UK, on average, but nearly three-quarters of local authorities are not planning to create more spaces, new research has shown. The shortage of council-owned disabled parking spaces is likely to get worse as well, with the eligibility criteria for Blue Badges now extended to include people with hidden disabilities.

In spite of this, 74 per cent of councils who responded to a Freedom of Information request by Confused.com said they don’t currently have any plans in place to expand the number of disabled parking spaces they offer.

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As part of its research, Confused.com also surveyed 2,000 UK drivers. It found 48 per cent think the move to allow people with hidden disabilities to claim Blue Badges is a positive one, but 30 per cent think councils need to create new disabled parking spaces to compensate and 25 per cent of those who hold a Blue Badge, or regularly travel with someone who does, are concerned they won’t be able to access disabled spaces due to the expansion of the scheme.

Furthermore, seven per cent of the 1,300 drivers surveyed who didn’t hold a Blue Badge admitted to having misused a disabled parking bay. Of these, 36 per cent said their reason was that they were only going to be quick, 28 per cent said there were plenty of other disabled spaces available and 24 per cent couldn’t find another space.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, commented: “Clearly more parking for Blue Badge holders is needed – 30 drivers to one space is quite a challenge.

“It’s no wonder some of these drivers have had to park elsewhere, and the number of people competing for spaces is only going to grow as more people can apply for a Blue Badge now.

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What is a Blue Badge?

A Blue Badge is a parking permit issued to people with eligible disabilities. The aim is to help them or someone who is driving them to park closer to their destination.

Blue Badge holders are allowed to park without charges or time limits in on-street disabled bays, and at on-street parking meters and pay and display machines. In addition, Blue Badge holders can park on yellow lines for up to three hours, unless a ban on loading or unloading is in force. These concessions do not apply to off-street car parks or private roads, however.

Using someone else’s Blue Badge when you’re not driving them is a criminal offence and can result in a fine of up to £1,000. If the holder is found to have misused the Blue Badge or allowed others to do so, it may be revoked.

Who is eligible for a Blue Badge?

You automatically qualify for a Blue Badge if you:

  • • Receive the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance.
  • • Receive Personal Independence Payments for being unable to walk further than 50 metres.
  • • Are registered as blind.
  • • Receive a War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement.
  • • Have received a lump sum benefit within tariff levels 1-8 of the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking.

Other people who may qualify for a Blue Badge include those who are more than two years old and have a permanent and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking, and those who drive a motor vehicle regularly, have a severe disability in both arms, and are unable to operate, or have considerable difficulty operating, all or some types of parking meter.

Parents of children under three-years-old may apply for a Blue Badge if their child has a specific medical condition which means that they must always be accompanied by bulky medical equipment which cannot be carried around without great difficulty, or need to be kept near a vehicle at all times, so that they can, if necessary, be treated in the vehicle, or quickly driven to a place where they can be treated, such as a hospital.

As of 30 August 2019, people with hidden disabilities are also eligible to apply for a Blue Badge. This includes those suffering from autism, dementia and other mental health conditions.

In addition, organisations can apply for a Blue Badge if they both care for and transport disabled people who themselves meet the eligibility criteria.

How do I apply for a Blue Badge?

Blue Badges are administered by local authorities. Applicants are advised to contact their local council directly to find out more about the administration of the scheme in their area and to obtain a copy of the application form. 

Alternatively, you can apply online via the Government website. Blue Badges are free in Wales, while successful applicants have to pay up to £10 in England and up to £20 in Scotland.

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