‘Stop preying on the vulnerable’: Disabled drivers warned of unauthorised websites trying to con them

Blue badge
Blue badge

A Hemel Hempstead firm has issued a warning to all drivers who are registered as disabled to look out for dubious websites.

Northgate Public Services says unauthorised online services are asking applicants to pay them £49 to apply for a blue badge – when it should be free.

The only payment required is the charge for the badge, which can vary between councils from no charge to up to £10 in England and £20 in Scotland.

Northgate’s executive director Joe Bradley said: “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.”

The badges give people better access to facilities through easier parking.

Mr Bradley said: “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.”

Maylands Avenue’s Northgate, which manages the Blue Badge Improvement Service (BBIS), says the application process is free and best done via the council or this website

The two millionth blue badge was recently issued under the BBIS, which operates throughout England, Wales and Scotland.

The popular service has received much praise from councils in Surrey, Hampshire and Kent, which 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 middlemen for potential applicants.

Northgate has been operating the BBIS since January 2012 on behalf of Department for Transport, Scottish Government and Welsh Government and 206 local councils.

It was chosen, because the authorities are 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 now produce about 4,000 blue badges a day.