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2.5 million Blue Badges now held in England

Department of Transport reveals rising levels of Blue Badges on issue

Mark Moran
11 January 2024
Blue Badges held: England, annual since March 1997
Blue Badges held: England, annual since March 1997
Percentage of adults holding a driving licence by age and disability status: England 2022
Percentage of adults holding a driving licence by age and disability status: England 2022
Percentage of population that hold a Blue Badge: England, annually since March 1997
Percentage of population that hold a Blue Badge: England, annually since March 1997
Blue Badges issued annually: England, since year ending March 2009
Blue Badges issued annually: England, since year ending March 2009

 

More than 2.5 million Blue Badges are held in England, which means that disabled parking permits have been issued to 4.6% of the population.

New data from the Department for Transport reveals the region with the most Blue Badge holders as a proportion of their population is the North East, with 5.4%, while London was the lowest, with 3.1%.

In England, 6,300 badges in the year ending March 2023 were reported to be lost or stolen. Of these, 73% (4,600) were reported to be lost, and 27% (1,700) were stolen.

The DfT has also revealed that it has ceased to collect data on Blue Badge prosecutions.

Blue Badges are disabled parking cards issued by local authorities to help people with mobility issues park closer to the goods and services they need to use. In August 2019, Blue Badge scheme eligibility criteria were extended to include more people with non-visible and neurological disabilities that may affect their ability to access goods and services.

Blue Badges are issued according to need of the applicant and are not related to any specific condition. Anyone may be awarded a Blue Badge if they meet the scheme’s eligibility criteria. Badges can also be issued to organisations who transport people with disabilities. Upon issue, a Blue Badge is valid for a period of up to three years.

As at 31 March 2023, data from the Blue Badge Digital Service (BBDS) database reveals 2.57 million Blue Badges were held, an increase of 5.7% since March 2022.

The BBDS figures reveal between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023 some 1.14 million badges were issued, an increase of 101,000 badges (9.7%) on the previous year. This increase is likely to be at least in part due to the effects of the gradual easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions on local authority processes and staffing. Some 39% of Blue Badges were issued without further assessment.

Access to a car

Access to a car would seem to give disabled people a greater opportunity to travel. Statistics on trips taken by disabled people are obtained from the National Travel Survey (NTS) reveal that, in average, in 2022 disabled adults in households with access to a car, and where they were the main driver, took more trips per person per year (879) than those in households without access to a car (493 trips), or those with access but who were a non-driver (565 trips). In 2022, 33% of disabled adults lived in households without access to a car, compared with 13% of non-disabled adults.

The NTS reveals that in 2022 disabled adults in England made 25% fewer trips than non-disabled adults. Disabled adults in England made an average of 686 trips, compared to 916 for non-disabled adults, with the difference being smaller amongst the 16 to 59 age range (14%) than amongst the over 60s (35%).
New analysis on income shows that in general, the difference in number of trips taken between disabled and non-disabled adults decreased with increasing income.

Blue Badges on issue

The number of badges issued includes those issued to people who did not hold previously hold a badge, and those resulting from reapplications from existing badge holders.

There were 1.14 million Blue Badges issued in the year ending March 2023, an increase of 101,000 badges (9.7%) on the previous year. The DfT said the increase is likely to partly reflect the continued recovery from coronavirus (COVID-19). The overall increase was primarily driven by a 15.5% increase in the number of badges issued subject to further assessment.

Of the badges issued, 4.0% (46,000 badges) were issued under the eligibility criteria for people with non-visible disabilities (introduced in August 2019). This is higher than in the year ending March 2022, when 2.5% (26,000) of all badges issued were for people with non-visible disabilities.

Out of the 1.14 million Blue Badges issued in the year ending March 2023, 685,000 (60%) were subject to further assessment, 445,000 (39%) were issued without further assessment and 7,000 (1%) were issued to organisations.

Out of the badges issued without further assessment, 94.1% were issued to those who met the relevant criteria under Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Almost all of the remaining badges were issued to those registered blind (5.3%) and those on War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement or Armed Forces and Reserved Forces Compensation scheme (0.5%).

Blue Badges held

Some 2.57 million valid Blue Badges held as at 31 March 2023, an increase of 5.7% (138,000 badges) when compared with the previous year. Of the badges held, 3.3% of all badges (86,000) were held by people with non-visible disabilities. This was an increase from 2.6% (64,000) in the year ending 31 March 2022.

On 31 March 2023 4.6% of the population in England held a valid Blue Badge, up from 4.3% the previous year.

As at 31 March 2023, 2.68 million people (4.7% of the population in England) were entitled to a Blue Badge without further assessment (previously known as automatically entitled). The number and proportion of people entitled to a Blue Badge without further assessment has been rising since 2015.

Out of the 2.68 million people who were eligible for a Blue Badge without further assessment, 38% held a Blue Badge. This shows a decreasing trend over recent years – the equivalent figure was 60% in 2015. Prior to 2015 this figure was relatively stable for several years.

The region with the most Blue Badge holders as a proportion of their population was the North East (5.4%). The region with the lowest proportion was London (3.1%), which also had the lowest regional proportion of retired people. Similarly, metropolitan areas such as Birmingham (3.8%) and Manchester (3.3%) also had comparatively low proportions of Blue Badge holders.

Lost and stolen badges

In England, 6,300 badges in the year ending March 2023 were reported to be lost or stolen. Of these, 73% (4,600) were reported to be lost, and 27% (1,700) were stolen. The figures reflect cases that have been recorded in the database. The DfT said it is possible that not all instances of loss or theft will be reported and recorded, and therefore will not be included in these figures.

Last year the DfT ceased the collection and publication of statistics on Blue Badge prosecutions as part of this statistical release. The DfT said: “While we received a small number of expressions of disappointment in this decision, it appears that these statistics were not widely used, and we therefore do not intend to resume producing these statistics for the foreseeable future. We continue to welcome feedback on this decision.”

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