Millions of pounds of parking and congestion fees are being lost in city centres because of motorists abusing the disabled parking scheme, according to a new report.
The National Fraud Initiative, the UK’s largest investigation into public-sector fraud, found that in some places Blue Badge disabled parking permits are being traded for around GBP 500.
The initiative detected frauds along with benefit overpayments totalling GBP 111 million in 2004, a 33 per cent increase over the previous investigation two years earlier.
Fraud and overpayment
It found 327 NHS employees and 2,690 local government employees carrying out housing benefit fraud and almost 2,500 overpayments to deceased pensioners.
The investigations – carried in London, Manchester and Liverpool – also found that more than 5,400 badges had not been cancelled although the badge-holder was dead.
The Audit Commission, the public spending watchdog which carries out the National Fraud Initiative every two years, said many of these badges were in active use and had been renewed after the person’s death.
Congestion charge dodge
Further investigations by Transport for London showed that some of these badges were being regularly used to avoid paying the congestion charge.
In Liverpool, the city council even found that one of its employees had been abusing the Blue Badge scheme. The council estimates that Blue Badge abuse in some areas is running as high as 80 per cent of badges.