Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport
In April, I gave an Oral Statement on the progress we were making with the Blue Badge scheme in Wales. I also advised that I had appointed a Task and Finish group, chaired by Val Lloyd, to provide me with recommendations to improve the scheme in Wales. Today I am publishing the group’s report and recommendations, together with the Welsh Government response.
The Task and Finish group considered a wide range of evidence in all aspects of the Blue Badge scheme, from the eligibility criteria to assessment and enforcement. The report makes 13 recommendations as to how the scheme can be improved in these areas throughout Wales. The recommendations cover a variety of changes, some of which can be addressed immediately. Others will require further work to look at issues around implementation, practicality and cost.
I recently shared the final report with Assembly Members and invited observations from them ahead of its publication and accompanied Welsh Government response. I would like to thank those members who came forward with their observations.
In order to take forward the recommendations of the Task and Finish group, I have formed a Blue Badge Implementation Group. This new group will also address any issues and concerns not previously investigated or considered by the Task and Finish group. I have invited Val Lloyd to Chair of the Implementation Group. A number of other working groups will also be established as determined by the work programme.
I have previously stated that I would like to see changes to eligibility to include people with temporary conditions which require extensive treatment and rehabilitation that impacts on their mobility. As a priority, I would like to investigate changes to eligibility, changes to administrative processes and improved enforcement. I am opening a consultation on these issues in the New Year and will provide a further update on this matter in due course.
This statement is being laid during recess in order to update members before the end of the year. I will be making a full statement to members in the Chamber in the New Year.