The decision to extend Blue Badge eligibility to people with cognitive impairments follows a three month consultation that was run in response to proposed changes in the UK welfare benefits system.
Automatic eligibility for a Blue Badge is to be extended to individuals that:
- cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid. This includes people with cognitive and sensory impairments, or
- can stand and then move but no more than 50 metres.
These changes will mean that automatic entitlement for a Blue Badge will be linked to the new Personal Independence Payments (PIP) that will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people aged 16 to 64.
Carl Sargeant said:
“Extending eligibility to the Blue Badge scheme is a key element of our commitment to modernising the scheme.”
“This commitment has been reflected by the fact that Wales is the first country to extend eligibility for a Blue Badge to people with cognitive impairments.
“In the Programme for Government we have made a commitment to reduce poverty amongst some of our poorest communities.
“We’ve always been clear about our concern at the potential impact that UK Government welfare reforms may have on some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Wales.
“By linking automatic eligibility for a Blue Badge in Wales to PIP we’ve helped to mitigate the detrimental impact that changes to the UK welfare system will have on those that currently access the free Blue Badge in Wales.
“Also, by linking PIP to Blue Badge eligibility we will help inform local authority decisions and help reduce the burden of assessment on vulnerable applicants.”
PIP will be awarded to people of working age (16-65).
It was also confirmed that that the Welsh Government is working closely with the Ministry of Defence to examine the case for extending automatic Blue Badge eligibility to seriously injured armed forces personnel who receive an award under the Armed Forces Independence Payment.
At the end of last year the Minister announced that the new Blue Badge - which is harder to copy, forge and alter as a result of an improved design – was free to all holders.
In Wales there are around 230,000 Blue Badges in use and 2.5 million across the UK.
This followed eligibility of the Blue Badge being extended to parents of children under three years old with specific medical conditions, people with disabilities in both arms and severely injured armed forces personnel and veterans.
Extending the Blue Badge further to people with cognitive impairments will come into force on 1 April 2013.