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Blue Badge Scheme - Further Information

A new Blue Badge is being launched from 1 April 2012 in Wales. It is part of the Welsh Government’s A Modern Blue Badge for Wales Action Plan.

The new badge will make it easier to crack down on fraud. It will make it easier for the severely disabled people who rely on the Blue Badge scheme to find a parking space. The changes will improve customer service and speed up the time it takes to renew Blue Badges.

The following changes will take effect from 1 April 2012:

The Local Authority will still be in charge of administering the Blue Badge scheme and issuing badges.

Benefits

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the BBIS?

The Welsh, Scottish and English Governments have been working closely with local authorities and Northgate Information Solutions in partnership with Payne Security to develop a new system for issuing badges and delivering common services.

The Blue Badge Improvement Service will offer:

  • Secure printing, supply and distribution of a new Blue Badge
  • A common store of key information on badges and badge holders to enable verification checks to be made quickly and easily, either from a PC or via smart phones or similar technology
  • A web-based management information system for local authorities
  • A national on-line application form available via Directgov
  • A range of ‘opt-in’ additional services will also be offered to local authorities. For example, sending out automatic renewal letters.

What are the advantages of the BBIS?

By establishing a common system for processing Blue Badge information and securely printing and distributing badges, we can prevent many types of fraud and abuse from happening in the first place.

Local authorities will have instant access to key Blue Badge details anywhere in Great Britain, not just in their local authority area.

Badge Re-design

Why is the Blue Badge being re-designed?

The current design is easily copied and forged. Many local authorities and disabled people have reported incidences of fraudulent copies being used.

Production of the badge is time consuming and fiddly for local authorities. Local authorities currently have to personalise the badge themselves by handwriting the details, and cutting and gluing the holder’s signature and photograph, onto the badge.  This leads to inconsistencies and details can easily be changed.

There are potential security issues with the storage and distribution of badges, with some local authorities reporting missing stock.  Changes will remove the need for local authorities to order stock and store blank badges.

Local authorities have said that the standardisation of information on the badge would help enforcement.

How has the Badge been re-designed?

The badge will be harder to copy and to forge and the physical security features of the badge will be enhanced, with the use of new technologies and printing techniques.

A single supplier has been contracted to personalise, print and distribute badges to improve security in production, distribution and supply, to reduce production costs and to simplify the process and help local authorities realise efficiency savings.

How will it make it better?

By finding a supplier to manufacture and personalise the badge on behalf of local authorities it will lead to:

  • Greater consistency in the appearance of the badge
  • The ability to use different manufacturing and personalisation techniques offered by a single specialist supplier, increasing the options of security features for the badge
  • The ability to make subtle changes to the badge quickly should the new-style badge be fraudulently reproduced
  • Local authorities no longer have to order stock and store the blank badges, freeing up space and time
  • Local authorities will no longer have to personalise each badge they issue, saving time
  • Identifying and standardising the information on the badge will aid enforcement, especially cross boundary checks
  • Enhancing the security features of the badge will help prevent forgery and deter fraudsters and will boost the credibility of the scheme
  • Improved environmental credentials of the clock and the leaflet

Will the new database be safe and secure?

The system and the data store will adhere to strict HMG security standards and will only be accessible over secure Government network links.

Local authority administrators will be appointed to control access to the service.

Only authorised LA staff will have access to the system which will be controlled by unique log-on IDs and passwords.

The system will comply and be operated within the requirements laid out in the Data Protection Act.

Will the new badge be ‘smart’?

Not at this time. Badges need to be displayed in the windscreen of a car and so are used in a different way to bus and train tickets. Enforcement would still be reliant on an officer walking past a vehicle with a hand-held device that was capable of reading the chip through a windscreen.

These readers would be expensive for local authorities to buy. A back-office would also be needed. The costs therefore at this time are prohibitive.

But the new style badge could include a chip at some point in the future (e.g. five years) if costs reduce and hand-held devices are more available.

The unique numbering system on the new badge will link in with the BBIS and will enable roadside checks to be made using SMART phones.

Have the rules changed on eligibility?

No, the eligibility criteria are the same as before. But changes to the way assessments are carried out will take place later and this may result in some people not being able to get a badge at renewal.

What will it mean if I apply on-line?

Applying on line through Directgov should make it easier for you to apply and to complete those sections that are relevant to the eligibility under which you are applying.

If you provide your mobile phone number or email address, reminders can be sent to you at renewal time thought these routes.  Otherwise, you will be sent a letter.

Some automatic checks can be made to help speed up your application and to reduce and prevent fraud.

You will be able to track the progress of your application and to pay on-line if you wish.

What are the environmental credentials of the badge, clock and the booklet?

The booklet is printed on 100% recycled paper and is 100% recyclable.

The new parking clock is made from 50% recycled polypropylene and is 100% recyclable.

The new badge is made from a combination of PVC and PET and is 50% recyclable. It cannot be fully recycled due to the new security features and the need for the badge to withstand being placed in heat and sunlight for long periods of time.

The new badge has been tested for heat resistance. It can withstand temperatures of at least 120 degrees Celsius. The inks used should be lightfast.

Key Facts and Figures

Facts

The Blue Badge scheme has been in place since 1970. It enables 230,000 disabled people in Wales to retain their independence.

In Wales, badges are issued by local authorities to individuals and organisations who meet the criteria set out in legislation.

The Welsh Government is responsible for the legislation that sets out eligibility, the terms of the concession itself, the design of the badge and the enforcement framework.

Most badges are valid for three years and the badge is for the holder’s use and benefit only.

Figures

As of 31 March 2010:

75% of Blue Badge holders have said that they would go out less often if they did not have a badge and 64% would be more reliant on friends and family members.

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.

About 40% of badges are issued to people who automatically qualify because they receive linked concessions or are registered as blind. About 60% are issued after applicants have been assessed by local authorities as being eligible. It is this latter category that has seen the real growth in issue-rate in recent years.

In January 2011, the National Fraud Authority estimated abuse of the scheme to be costing an estimated £46mn per year in the UK.

A person is eligible for a badge if they meet one of the criteria set out in secondary legislation. They can be assessed as eligible either ‘without further assessment’ or ‘subject to further assessment’ by the local authority.

People are eligible ‘without further assessment’ if they are over the age of two and:

People are eligible ‘subject to further assessment’ if they: