Northgate warns Blue Badge users to look out for dubious websites
16 April 2014
“Don’t be conned into paying someone more than you have to, to purchase your Blue Badge,” Northgate Public Services warns applicants for the successful Blue Badge Improvement Service (BBIS), after it was found that unauthorised online services are asking applicants to pay them £49 to apply for a blue badge.
To make an application for a blue badge, which assists disabled people to park more easily, is free. The only payment required is for the charge for the badge, which can vary between councils from no charge to up to £10 in England and £20 in Scotland.
With the two millionth Blue Badge recently issued under the Blue Badge Improvement Service , which is managed by Northgate Public Services throughout England, Wales and Scotland, the popular service has received much praise from councils such as Surrey, Hampshire and Kent, who are responsible for determining the applications. In the light of this success, unauthorised websites have been jumping on the bandwagon and attempting to act as middle men for potential applicants.
Northgate’s Executive Director, Joe Bradley, expressed fears about these unnecessary traders. “We are concerned that there are new websites out there misleading people into thinking that they have to pay £49 before they can even apply for a Blue Badge. This is not the case. We would like to assure potential applicants that the application process is free and that the best way to apply is via your local council or via the official Blue Badge website (www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge).
“Unauthorised websites are preying on vulnerable, disabled people and taking advantage of what is a successful and beneficial service aimed at promoting improved mobility for disabled people through a badge which gives them better access to facilities by easier parking,” he said.
Northgate Public Services has been operating the Blue Badge Improvement Service since January 2012, delivering the service on behalf of the Department for Transport, Scottish Government and Welsh Government and provides a unified approach for all local authorities to administer Blue Badge applications. Northgate was chosen to deliver the service as central governments and the 206 local authorities involved, were keen to stamp out fraudulent badge use and provide a fairer and more effective system for people with severe mobility difficulties. Fraudulent use is estimated to cost taxpayers £46 million per year.
Northgate and its printing partner Essentra Security, produce about 4,000 badges a day and help to provide an efficient fast service. The new service means that it is easier to share data and deliver better customer service, saving money and reducing the opportunity for fraud.
Local authorities like Kent County Council and Southend-on-sea have found the service excellent, providing freedom and flexibility.