Report by the Commission on Devolution in Wales »We hope that this Report will give us the foundation for a fundamental reform of the devolution settlement.Learn more »
Third round of Enterprise Zones Business Rates Scheme opens
Businesses in the seven Welsh Enterprise Zones are being invited to bid for more than £3 million in the latest round of a Welsh Government Business Rate scheme.
- Welsh Ministers take hard line to end FGM in Wales
- NHS Wales Awards 2014 Finalists Announced
Featured Article »Landmark social care Bill completes stage 3 scrutiny
- Third round of Enterprise Zones Business Rates Scheme opens
In this section
- Business and economy
- Children and young people
- Culture and sport
- Education and skills
- Environment and countryside
- Equality and diversity
- Health and social care
- Consultation on the Statutory Guidance on Securing Sufficient Play Opportunities
- EIDCymru: an electronic movement reporting system for sheep and goats - the identification of sheep and the current slaughter derogation
- Achieving high standards together - a new framework for animal health and welfare in Wales
- Revising the national framework for Continuing NHS Healthcare (CHC)
- Phase 1 - Draft Report: Review of Audit, Inspection and Regulation
- Statutory Guidance to the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales in relation to the salaries of Local Authority Chief Executives
Featured consultation »A new framework for animal health and welfare in Wales
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Section highlightThe Housing (Wales) Bill
The Bill will introduce significant improvements across the housing sector to ensure that people have access to a decent, affordable home and better housing-related services.
Legislative programme 2013 - 2014 »
The First Minister detailed the 8 bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the 3rd year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightProject pipeline update - December 2013
This Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan annex highlights planned investments and potential procurement opportunities.
2nd Supplementary Budget 2013-14 »
The 2nd Supplementary Budget proposes a number of changes to the 1st Supplementary Budget for 2013-14, which was published on 25 June 2013.Learn more »
- Statistics & Research
Written Statement - Update on the Modernisation of the Blue Badge Scheme in Wales
Carl Sargeant, Minister for Local Government and Communities
The Welsh Government is making good progress with its plans to modernise the Blue Badge Scheme in Wales to promote independent mobility, social inclusion, equality of opportunity and access for disabled people who meet the eligibility criteria. I would like to update you on some of these recent developments.
Regulations came into force on 1st August 2011 which extended eligibility to children under
the age of three who must be accompanied by bulky medical equipment or may need
access to vehicles for emergency hospital treatment. At the same time we extended the Scheme to severely injured war veterans who fall within tariffs 1 – 8 of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
One of the key areas for modernising the scheme is the provision of a more secure badge and the development of a data sharing system. The Welsh Government is working closely with the Scottish and UK Government to develop a GB wide data sharing system which will deliver this aim. A contract has been awarded by the Department for Transport to Northgate Information Solutions, in partnership with Payne Security who will print and supply the new badge design. This is known as the Blue Badge Improvement Service or BBIS.
The BBIS will be available to all Local Authorities in Wales, England and Scotland. The core BBIS will provide:
- secure printing, personalisation and distribution of the new Blue Badge design;
- a central database of all Blue Badges on issue and key information on badge holders;
- an on-line eligibility checker and an on-line application form that will be available via Directgov, Local Authorities’ own websites and other suitable interfaces;
- an initial enquiry support service; and
- managed service administration and support.
One of the most significant changes we are making as part of the BBIS is to the design of the Blue Badge itself so that it is harder to copy, forge and alter. The new badge will be made of PVC and includes elements such as complex printing patterns; a holographic feature that can’t be photocopied or scanned; use of security inks that are only available from a restricted list of providers; raised features and Braille; and, a digital photograph. Using a single supplier for the badges has several benefits. As well as improving security in the distribution, supply and storage of badge:
- we can make use of a common numbering system, enabling more effective control of badges that are reported as lost or stolen;
- we can maximise economies of scale and introduce sophisticated anti-fraud features at the lowest cost;
- we can respond quickly by changing, for example, some of the colour features should fakes or copies start being produced;
- the quality and durability of badges can be improved so that they are legible and resistant to fading in the sun.
A public consultation exercise was conducted between 8 August and 31 October 2011 and covered a number of issues: the Blue Badge fee, assessment procedures and enforcement.
In the Programme for Government we have made a commitment to reduce poverty amongst some of our poorest people and communities. The Equality Impact Assessment produced for the Blue Badge reforms states that disabled people in Wales are almost twice as likely as non-disabled people to live in low income households, and they face extra costs related to managing their impairments, which could push individuals further into poverty. In recognition of the fact that we need to support the most vulnerable groups in society, I am looking at ways to support the cost of the Blue Badge Scheme. As a result I have decided not to impose a fee on Blue Badge users. To do this I am reviewing spending and looking for efficiencies in all areas – for example I am currently consulting on options that may deliver efficiencies in the way in which we publicise traffic orders. Organisational badges and certain kinds of replacement badges will incur a fee for the applicant. The Welsh Government will provide funding for Local Authorities which will cover the increased cost of the badge. This is in contrast to England and Scotland, where local authorities may charge up to £10 and £20 respectively for a blue badge.
I will shortly be publishing the summary of consultation responses which also sets out our plans for taking forward good practice on the assessment of eligibility for the Scheme and to give Local Authorities the power to improve enforcement and reduce misuse.
Finally, I am also looking at the evidence to extend eligibility to certain categories of people who have cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s or autism. Further research is being undertaken to establish threshold and assessment techniques, and a consultation will be undertaken prior to any policy decision being taken.
In taking the whole of this work forward the Welsh Government is looking at the ways in which Local Authorities can develop collaborative working practices in delivering the Scheme.