38 Blue Badges for every one space as parking availability fails to keep pace with soaring applications
New data has revealed the number of Blue Badges in circulation has dramatically increased following the change in eligibility policy but the number of council-owned disabled parking spaces available has lagged behind, creating a nationwide shortage.
A Freedom of Information request and analysis carried out by Confused.com found that there approximately 55,000 local authority-controlled disabled parking spaces in the UK, while there are more than two million Blue Badge holders – averaging to 38 badges per space.
The revelation follows changes to the Blue Badge scheme last August which opened up eligibility to people with less visible disabilities, such as dementia, autism, and anxiety.
The shift in policy was welcomed by many individuals and organisations, including the National Autistic Society and Disability Rights UK. However, others, such as Disabled Motoring UK and disability campaigner Steve Wilkinson, raised concerns that the scheme could end up being oversubscribed and under-resourced, leaving those with mobility issues struggling.
To help local authorities cope with the increase in demand for applications and spaces, the government provide an extra £1.7 million to councils in the first year of the programme.
According to Confused.com’s findings, more than 35,000 badges have been issued under the new ‘hidden disability’ criteria.
On the other hand, councils have only installed 1,825 new disabled parking spaces in the last 12 months.
Alongside the number of blue badges in circulation far outstripping the availability of spaces, Confused.com highlights that the problem is exacerbated by an estimated 5 per cent (two million) of the driving population suspected of using disabled spaces when they shouldn’t.
Confused.com pointed out that two-thirds of Blue Badge holders have been forced to park elsewhere due to all disabled parking spaces being occupied
Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at Confused.com, commented: “Opening up the Blue Badge scheme to people with hidden disabilities is a really positive move. But it seems there haven’t been many updates to parking to accommodate for the increase in people applying for a permit.
“It’s clear there’s a need for more parking – 38 Blue Badge holders to one space is going to create a lot of issues for these drivers. But the issue is made worse by people taking advantage. The rules are clear: if you aren’t a Blue Badge holder, you don’t use the dedicated space.”
Highest disabled parking space demand by region
Analysing which regions have the most Blue Badge holders per bay, Yorkshire & the Humber ranked the highest with 129 badges per space, while the East Midlands was a close second with 122.
The East of England and West Midlands also scored particularly high, with 93 and 91, respectively.
At the other end of the scale, London boasted a lower than the average number of badges to spaces, with 20. Scotland had the lowest with 12 Blue Badges to every one council-owned disabled parking space.
|Region||Blue Badge holders per parking space|
|East of England||93|
|Yorkshire & the Humber||129|