The Welsh government announced that the blue badge disabled parking scheme will be extended to people with ‘severe cognitive impairments’. This means that the blue badge will become also available to people who have conditions such as autism and other learning disabilities and / or for their caretakers that have to drive them around. Also, blue badges will become automatically available for people on the new system of personal independence payments (Pip). This is another big change in the scheme: Linking the blue badge to the new Pip payments. The new system will be operative in spring 2013.
The Welsh ministers say that they want to modernize the blue badge scheme. Transport minister Carl Sargeant tells the BBC that “Extending eligibility to the Blue Badge scheme is a key element of our commitment to modernizing the scheme. This commitment has been reflected by the fact that Wales is the first country to extend eligibility for a blue badge scheme to people with cognitive impairments”.
Wales currently counts 230,000 blue badge holders. 10,802 people of working age were registered with learning disabilities in March 2012, but this doesn’t mean that all these people qualify for a blue badge. The number of people who qualify for a blue badge will become more clear after the Pip assessments.
The Welsh government is also examining whether or not injured armed forces personnel should be eligible for blue badges. The Welsh government is discussing this with the UK Ministry of Defence to examine if these people could also benefit the blue badge scheme. The government stated that they wanted to “examine the case for extending automatic blue badges eligibility to seriously injured armed forces personnel” who received an award under the Armed Forces Independence Scheme.
The scheme also includes people who need help of another person because they have sensory issues, or people who have to use an assistance dog. Anyone between the ages of 16 and 64 who receive the new benefit will automatically qualify for a blue badge.
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