In the UK there are currently 2.5 million people who hold disabled badges and these come with many advantages.
For one, they mean that drivers can park in specially allocated spaces, park on yellow lines, avoid congestion charges and parking fines.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people abusing the system and it is estimated that fraud around disabled badges costs the UK taxpayer nearly £50 million every year.
Security features are going to be implemented in the new badges and there are also going to be stricter rules about deciding who is eligible for a badge. The new design of the disabled badge is going to make it harder to forge.
Norman Baker is the transport minister and he has commented, “Those who create forged disabled badges just so they can get a financial benefit are exploiting the system. As well as costing the taxpayer money, they mean that people who are actually disabled are unable to take advantages of the spaces allocated for them.”
The current badges are written by hand and made from card, but these are going to be changed to electronic badges in the near future and are going to bear a resemblance to the current driving licence. A hologram is going to be included on the badge and a serial number that can be checked against a database, is going to appear on them.
Mr Baker continued, “This new badge is much more technically advanced than the last, and forgery of it is going to be much more challenging. The security measures on this new badge are going to be the equivalent to the security features seen on a UK bank note. We are also going to be making the eligibility requirements more stringent so people are unable to take advantage of the system that way.”
Tests to decide whether a person is entitled to a badge are now going to be conducted by the council, instead of the patient’s GP. Keith Brown is the Scottish transport minister and he has previously commented that the system in the UK is far too open for abuse. He said, “There are genuinely disabled people who require the spaces and they are all too often being taken up by people who are misusing the disabled badge, or simply forging it.”
The director of campaigns for Disabled Motoring UK is Helen Dolphin and she has commented, “We have been campaigning for a change to the blue badge system for many years and I’m very pleased to see that changes are finally coming to the system.”
Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland is headed by Anne McLean who said, “Having the blue badge is essential for disabled people and we welcome these reforms which are going to protect the rights of people who are genuinely entitled to the badge.”
The original disabled badge scheme was introduced during the 1970s and is managed by different local authorities throughout the UK. The badge is going to be released in Wales a few months after it is in England, but Northern Ireland is keeping the old badge for now.