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Question to Kent County Council [with answer], 9 February 2012: Blue Badge fee payment methods

February 9, 2012 2:40 PM

Question by George Koowaree to the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health

Along with increasing the Blue Badge issue fee from £2.00 to £10.00 KCC has restricted payment to 'payable by cheque only'* - there is no longer provision for applicants to pay by any other payment methods (i.e. postal order, debit card etc.); will the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health inform this council:

a) if he was aware that KCC had imposed this restrictive payment practice on some of our most vulnerable residents and is not enabling access to a range of cost effective payment methods for all and

b) how disadvantaged individuals who qualify for a badge but do not have a cheque book (i.e. those with a basic bank account*) are meant to pay for their blue badge?

Extract from blue badge application form

* Extract from blue badge application form http://bit.ly/zKaD1V

* With a basic bank account you do not get a cheque book, source: The Money Advice Service - Basic Bank Accounts Guide http://bit.ly/AE93Fo


The National Blue Badge permit scheme has been subject to a wide range of reforms within the last year in order to increase scrutiny of application, security of badges, reduce fraud and help Local Authority schemes become self funding. The most recent changes occurred on 1 January 2012 seeing an increase in badge costs from £2 to £10. With such a successful scheme, subject to strict assessment criteria, it will be inevitable that some applications will not be successful.

The reason we withdrew accepting Postal Orders was due to the change in policy which came in from 1 January 2012 which means payment is only taken if an application is accepted. Returning a cheque is straightforward, as the applicant can destroy the cheque and no funds will be taken from their account. With Postal orders, fees are not refunded and the Post Office requires the original receipt to obtain a refund.

As a result of feedback from several applicants, and discussions with the Blue Badge Team, the process was amended on 31 January 2012 so that Postal Orders can be accepted. All of the team that handle Blue Badge enquiries were made aware of this change late on the 31st. Our application form and frequently asked questions are currently being updated on kent.gov.

We are asking anyone that chooses to pay by Postal Order, to ask the Post Office when they are purchasing their postal order, how to get a refund if necessary. If their application is declined, their postal order will be returned to them.

We are currently looking into card payments options through the national online blue badge system. Once this has been developed and the Blue Badge Team has agreed a way forward, our website and application form will be updated as appropriate.

We are currently working with the Customer Relationship Team to plot The Customers Journey on Blue Badge Applications and will ensure we follow national guidelines in this regard. We will of course continue to ensure cost effective and efficient payment methods are explored and offer choice to Service Users.