Assembly Member for Wrexham, Lesley Griffiths has welcomed planned reforms to the disabled “Blue Badge” parking scheme, which could help to stamp out fraud against genuine badge holders.
The reforms, currently being put to consultation by the Welsh Labour Government, will aim to prevent fraud in relation to the scheme by making Blue Badges harder to counterfeit and give local authorities greater powers to tackle fraudsters.
Central to the reforms is the introduction of a new IT system called The Blue Badge Improvement Service (BBIS) which will improve administration of the scheme and make fraud more difficult through sharing information on true Blue Badge holders with local authorities across the UK.
The system will also make fraudulent duplication of the badges more difficult by bringing in in newly designed badges with additional security features.
The consultation document will also seek views on a range of options for determining applicants’ eligibility for a Blue Badge and proposals to give local authorities additional powers to cancel and confiscate a Blue Badge.
Public consultation on the proposed reforms is currently underway for 12 weeks to discuss various including options to raise the cost of blue badges to pay for these changes.
Commenting on the reforms Lesley Griffiths said:
“The Blue Badge Disabled Parking Scheme provides a vital lifeline to disabled people in Wales, with seventy-five per cent of Badge holders saying that they would go out less often if they did not have a badge.
“The badge provides the holder with significant independence and helps improve quality of life by enabling the badge holder to access important services.
“However, it has become clear that some people are abusing this system, faking badges and displacing genuine badge holders from being able to access the benefits of the scheme they have a right to.
“This cannot continue. I welcome this Welsh government consultation, which is looking at ways to make this scheme secure and stamp out fraud against genuine disabled parking scheme participants.”
The consultation follows a recent extension of the blue badge scheme to cover severely injured armed forces personnel and veterans, people with disabilities in both arms, and parents of children under three with certain medical conditions.
The full consultation paper can be found at:http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/transport/bluebadge/?lang=en&status=open
Responses to the consultation paper should be made by 31 October 2011, in any of the following ways:
Blue Badge Team
Local Government and Communities (Integrated Transport Unit)