The government is spending £55m on reforming the system of blue badges which allow disabled people to park for free on the street and for up to three hours on double yellow lines.
It is putting up the application fee for badges and creating a nationwide database to reduce fraudulent use of them. There were 2.3m badges in circulation in 2007, up four per cent on the year before. Badges are issued by your local authority, and the north west has the most per head of population - 60 per thousand people.
Two thirds of councils said misuse of badges was a major problem, and the government estimates that as many as one in 200 badges in circulation are reported lost or stolen each year. Since they are handed out by local authorities, it is often to difficult to check whether a badge is legit or forged or stolen.
A national databse would allow instant confiscation of badges flagged up as stolen.
Transport minister Paul Clark said with badges changing hands for up to £1,500 it was time to get tough on the crime.
The government is also proposing standardising assessments for applicants for the badges. Local authorities will get £10m to set up data sharing over three years and £45m for new assessments over the same period.
Some new categories of people will be eligible for the new badges including those with severe mental impairments, those with short-term mobility problems lasting less than a year, and injured active or ex-service personnel.®