A report in today’s Telegraph on Sunday claims that the Government is planning a crackdown on abuse of the Blue Badge car parking scheme. They cite research by Leeds Council, which found 60% of badges are being misused. The main methods of abuse are given as “using a disabled relative’s badge without their knowledge, keeping a disabled relative’s badge after they have died, and photocopying or using stolen or forged badges.”
Looking at that list, it would seem that not only are the badges being abused, but so are the disabled people. They are already the people most affected by blue badge abuse. People who aren’t entitled to a badge will not be inconvenienced by someone wrongfully parking in a disabled space, its the genuinely disabled who will be forced to park elsewhere. Additionally they are the ones having their badges stolen, or ‘borrowed’ by others without their permission.
As disabled people are the primary victims of the abuse it seems exceptionally odd that one way the Government apparently intends to crack down on the fraudsters is by forcing councils to medically test applicants for badges. The current system already requires applicants to get a signature from their GP. The abusers of the system are not doing so by getting a badge fraudulantly, but by misusing badges belonging to genuinely disabled people. The criteria for getting a badge are very strict, many people who would benefit from a badge, such as those awaiting and recovering from a hip replacement, are already not eligible for one.
In times where local councils are withdrawing funding from groups providing services to disabled people, such as day centres and employment schemes, introducing a costly medical system using council funds seems a bit tasteless. To inflict yet another medical on disabled people, to not trust their GP’s evidence, is yet another statement from Government saying we don’t trust disabled people, and we don’t trust the healthcare team directly responsible for their care.