News story from: Department for Transport and Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
“Blue Badge scheme is extended to those with ‘hidden disabilities’
Those with less visible disabilities will benefit from the biggest change in the Blue Badge scheme in 50 years.”
Published 15 June 2019
The Blue Badge scheme is to be extended to people who have less visible disabilities, making journeys more accessible.
This change to the scheme is the biggest in nearly 50 years with the extended criteria coming into force on 30 August 2019.
A review is also being launched into Blue Badge fraud and ways of reducing misuse.
People with hidden disabilities will soon be able to access Blue Badge parking permits, thanks to the rollout of new guidance today (June 15 2019).
For drivers or passengers with dementia, anxiety disorders or reduced mobility, the anticipation of travel difficulties such as finding a parking space can build on top of the stress of the journey itself.
The new guidance, which represents the biggest change to the scheme since the 1970s, will offer a lifeline to people who often find road travel difficult by providing better access to work and other amenities. It will also help combat loneliness by enabling them to stay connected to family and friends.
The review will look at ensuring Blue Badges are used correctly and improving public understanding so that those with hidden disabilities can use the badges with confidence.
Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said:
It’s unacceptable that people with hidden disabilities still face discrimination when using disabled facilities like parking spaces.
Extending the Blue Badge scheme is a watershed moment in ensuring those with hidden disabilities are able to travel with greater ease and live more independent lives.
To help councils with the expected increase in applications, the department has agreed with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to provide £1.7 million in the first year of the programme. The Department for Transport has been working with specialists to expand the eligibility criteria for the badges, which will now include people who cannot walk as part of a journey without considerable psychological distress or the risk of serious harm.
The Blue Badge scheme already means people with physical disabilities can park closer to their destination than other drivers, as they are less able to take public transport or walk longer distances. The extension of these badges to those with less visible conditions was announced last summer following an 8 week consultation on widening the eligibility criteria. It is an important part of the government’s drive for greater parity between physical and mental health.
While the new criteria will give clear and consistent guidelines on Blue Badge eligibility for the whole of England, not everyone with non-physical disabilities will qualify for a badge. It will be up to the relevant local authority to decide if an applicant meets the eligibility criteria, as is currently the case.
Those eligible can apply for or renew a Blue Badge online.”
Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at the National Autistic Society, said:
“The changes will make a huge difference to thousands of autistic people and their families across England – helping them to go out in the way many others take for granted.
Just leaving the house is incredibly difficult for many autistic people – and involves detailed preparation. Some autistic people have no concept of the dangers of the road while others are so anxious about plans going wrong, like not being able to find a parking space, that they don’t go out at all.
Having a Blue Badge will be life-changing and help many to reduce loneliness and isolation.”