The benefits of having a Blue Badge for those that are entitled to one are clear: being able to legitimately and legally park closer to your destination can be a lifesaver for drivers or passengers who are disabled or have mobility problems.
Yet, as always, there are those who are out to rip off people for whom a Blue Badge is vital to maintain or improve their mobility, social networks, and access to services and shopping.
Reports are flooding in from across the country from people who’ve been duped in the latest Blue Badge scam. But this is an easy scam to dodge, if you know what you’re doing…
What’s the problem?
The main problem is that while applying for a Blue Badge is free (although some councils may charge you to supply one if your application is successful), some people find the whole application process a bit daunting.
Which is where the scammer steps in; by offering to apply for a Blue Badge on their behalf, they use a variety of methods to con would-be claimants into feeling that the application fee is money well spent. These methods include official-looking websites, convincing website addresses, and exaggerated claims about how hard the process is.
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How much do they charge?
The amount the scammers charge for submitting an application for a Blue Badge on your behalf varies, but it's normally around £50.
And, to rub salt in the wound, some won’t even forward your application on your behalf once you’ve paid, which means you’ll have handed over your money for nothing and will still have to apply through the official channels yourself.
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How much should I be paying?
Nothing! Applying for a Blue Badge is free throughout the United Kingdom and if you live in Wales there is nothing to pay at all, even if your application is successful.
However, those living in Northern Ireland and England will have to pay £10 to have a Blue Badge supplied if one is granted, while those in some parts of Scotland might have to pay up to £20 to cover the costs of issuing it.
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How can I spot a scam Blue Badge website?
Spotting a Blue Badge scammer who is out to rip you off is easy: if the website address doesn't end in GOV.UK or a local county council website (which will end in ‘gov.uk’ too), then it’s a scam.
It doesn’t matter how official the website looks, or how cunning the website address is, if it doesn’t end in gov.uk it’s not an official website and is almost certainly a scam.
As Andy Hermiston of Gloucestershire Trading Standards puts it: “These websites may not be illegal but they exist solely to make money by charging for an application process that is absolutely free.
Just because a website appears at the top of the list on an internet search it may not be the best one to use. Please ensure that you use the official website.”
Is parking on the pavement illegal?
That’s all very well, but how easy is the official process?
It is very easy, despite what the scammers might lead you to believe. If you live in England or Wales then you can apply online via the GOV.UK website. (Some local councils also let you apply direct via their own website, while others will direct you back to the main GOV.UK website to apply.)
If you live in Scotland you need apply here, while those living in Northern Ireland can apply here.
All four countries allow you to apply online, in person, over the phone, or by post, so you can choose whichever method best suits you and your circumstances. However, if you can, an online application is likely to be the fastest and easiest way to apply.
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Seems fairly straightforward then!
It is - and if you need more information then all you need to do is to visit the Blue Badge scheme; information from your council section of the GOV.UK website.
Just enter your postcode in the box and it will automatically identify the right local authority and direct you to the appropriate council. (If you don’t know your postcode then you can use the link to the Royal Mail Postcode Finder, which is on the same page.)
Or, you can read our guide on How to renew your Blue Badge.
How long does a Blue Badge application take?
The time it takes to process your application varies considerably, but should fall within a four to six-week period.
But you can keep an eye on how it's going as there's a Blue Badge application tracking site here where you can monitor the progress of your Blue Badge application.
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How do I know if I’m eligible?
The GOV.UK website has a handy Blue Badge eligibility checker, which you can use to see if you’re entitled to a Blue Badge.
Have you been scammed? If so, we want to hear about it so we can warn our readers about the methods used to lure you in. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us your story.
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