Article by Hannah Johnson, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
A motion to annul The Disabled Persons (Badges for Motor Vehicles) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 will be debated in plenary on Tuesday 14 June. The Regulations extend the eligibility criteria for Blue Badges to include people with temporary impairments that last less than twelve months, such as complex leg fractures, strokes and spinal trauma. Mark Isherwood AM tabled the motion as he considers that there should be more flexibility around the period for which temporary badges are issued, rather than a strict twelve month limit.
The Blue Badge Scheme
A disabled person’s parking badge (known as a “Blue Badge”) allows the holder to benefit from a range of parking concessions and exemptions from certain charges that apply to other motorists. The badges are issued by local authorities.
The 2016 Regulations amend the Disabled Persons (Badges for Motor Vehicles) (Wales) Regulations 2000 to extend eligibility for the Blue Badge Scheme to people with a temporary but substantial disability that is expected to affect their mobility for at least twelve months. The 2016 regulations make two changes:
- Regulation 2(2) inserts a new description of disabled persons that includes people who are more than 2 years old and who have a temporary but substantial disability. The person must be unable to walk, or have considerable difficulty in walking because of the disability and the disability must be expected to last for at least twelve months; and
- Regulation 2(3) provides the period for which badges are to be issued to people with temporary disabilities, which is one year.
In May 2015 the former Minister for Economy, Science and Transport commissioned a Task & Finish Group to review the Blue Badge Scheme. Its report and recommendations were published in November 2015. The Welsh Government consulted on the extension of eligibility criteria to include people with temporary impairments in January 2016. The consultation outlined:
- plans for extending eligibility to the Scheme to people with temporary impairments that require extensive treatment and rehabilitation that affect their mobility; and
- proposals to streamline administrative processes in cases where the applicant has previously undergone a robust assessment.
Following the consultation, the former Minister made a statement on 31 March highlighting that: ‘Some of the [Blue Badge Task and Finish Group’s] recommendations cannot be realised immediately, as they will require changes to primary legislation in order to be implemented. I am clear however that I want to see improvement in the delivery of the scheme by local authorities.’ Mark Isherwood AM has called for temporary Blue Badges in the past, and has more recently called for reforms to the Scheme.