Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport
The Blue Badge Scheme has a vital role to play in enabling blind or disabled people to travel independently, either as a driver or a passenger, by providing for parking near where they need to go.
Given the scheme’s importance, I was concerned by some of the experiences that were reported to me about the way that the scheme is implemented. To explore this in more detail, I asked Robert Lloyd Griffiths, Director Wales, Institute of Directors and Autism Employment Ambassador for Wales, to lead a group of experts to review the Blue Badge Scheme in Wales.
The group’s report contained recommendations on eligibility, assessment and enforcement. Following publication of the group’s report last summer, we undertook a consultation on a number of the recommendations and have now completed our review of the responses.
In terms of eligibility, I will be making regulations to enable people to apply for blue badges under discretionary criteria, to ensure that those who are unable to plan or follow journeys as a result of a cognitive impairment are able to qualify for a badge.
To ensure that applications for badges are properly assessed, we have developed a verification toolkit to assist local authorities when processing discretionary applications. The toolkit will be rolled out in the next few months. It is hoped that this new toolkit will remove the GP from the assessment process. Further independent support and advice for local authorities will be put in place to ensure that assessment of applications is consistent across Wales.
The Regulations to introduce the new eligibility criteria will be made once the toolkit and support arrangements are in place to ensure that they can be implemented effectively.
The review group were particularly concerned about the misuse and abuse of the Blue Badge Scheme. New regulations that are due to come into force this year will put a more rigorous enforcement process in place. We will also undertake a communication campaign to make people more aware of the rules for the scheme to help prevent inadvertent misuse.
Full details of the Blue Badge Scheme are available on the Welsh Government website.