Changes to the regulations come following a public consultation between July and September 2010 that received feedback from a wide variety of disability and other interest groups.
Commenting on the changes to the Blue Badge scheme, Minster for Transport, Carl Sargeant, said,
“It’s vital that disabled people can access important services which is why we embarked on a wide-ranging look at the Blue Badge scheme to ensure that it remains fit for purpose and meets the future needs of the people of Wales.
“As part of that overview to modernise the Blue Badge scheme in Wales we’ve listened to what people have said they need and taken on board the problems with the present scheme.
“What has become clear is the need to extend eligibility to three sections of society that were previously overlooked – I’m delighted that these changes to the regulations now address that issue.
“We are aware that more work is required to ensure that the scheme is modernised to reduce current problems and deal with future challenges– which is why we will shortly be going out to consultation on the Blue Badge design, how to assess for a Blue Badge, and the issue of fraud.”
Guidance and advice to local authorities and blue badge applicants have already been issued in time for the change to take place on August 1st.
Welcoming the announcement, Disability Wales CEO, Rhian Davies said,
“Disability Wales is delighted to hear that the Welsh Government intends to widen the blue badge eligibility criteria.
“For disabled people a blue badge is a vital element in being able to live independently in the community and enjoy the same access as non disabled people to shops, leisure facilities, public services and places of learning and employment.”
The Blue Badge Scheme was introduced in 1971 to provide parking concessions for registered blind or severely disabled people to enable them to park close to the facilities and services they need to use. There are around 230,000 Blue Badge holders in Wales.