The Blue Badge scheme has been in place since 1970.  It enables 2.56 million disabled people to retain their independence

The 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.  The fee which local authorities can charge for a badge has been £2 since 1983 and is increased to £10 from 01 January 2012


As of 31 March 2011:

  • There were 2.56 million valid Blue Badges on issue in England
  • 4.9% of the English population held a valid Blue Badge
  • Numbers have increased by 0.6% since 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

There could be approximately 650,000 additional badge holders an increase of 27% - over the next 10 years under the existing eligibility criteria because of the aging population

About 36% of badges are issued to people who automatically qualify because they receive linked concessions or are registered as blind. About 63% 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.  1% were issued to organisations

Abuse is rising in line with the value of a badge. The DfT estimates that the annual benefit of the scheme to disabled people is around £250m or nearly £100 per annum on average for each badge holder in England.  The benefit per person ranges from £35 for people living in rural areas who make one trip per week, to nearly £5,000 for those who use a badge to travel to work to London every day

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

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:

  • Receive the Higher Rate of the Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance
  • Meet the “Moving Around” description for the Mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and been awarded 8 points or more for this description
  • Are severely sight impaired
  • Receive a War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement
  • Has received a lump sum benefit within tariff levels 1-8 of the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces (Compensation) Scheme and has been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking
  • Who have a terminal illness and hold a DS1500 report

People are eligible 'subject to further assessment' if they:

  • Are over the age of two and are unable to walk or have very considerable difficulty in walking because of a permanent and substantial disability
  • Regularly drive a car, have a severe disability in both arms and are unable to operate or have considerable difficulty in operating, a parking meter
  • Are under the age of three and have a condition that requires that they be always accompanied by bulky medical equipment or requires that they be kept near a motor vehicle in case of need for emergency medical treatment
Page last updated: 
13 April 2017
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