Blue Badge scheme opened up to people with hidden disabilities
Extension means people with non-visible conditions, like Parkinson’s and autism, can apply for a badge.
The biggest shake-up in the Blue Badge parking scheme for 50 years has come into force in England. From now on, people with hidden disabilities, including anxiety disorders or a brain injury, can apply for one of the badges, which allow people to park closer to their destination.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has issued new guidance to local councils on eligibility for the badges. It has also launched a new online eligibility checker to make the scheme clearer to people before they apply.
Eligibility criteria now includes people who cannot walk as part of a journey without considerable psychological distress or the risk of serious harm.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says: “We know that for some people, the possibility of not being able to find a parking space can make even leaving the house a challenge, which is why the Blue Badge is so important.
“The scheme, which is already a lifeline for so many disabled people, will make a huge difference to those with non-visible conditions such as autism, dementia, Parkinson’s and arthritis.”
Not everyone with a non-visible disability will qualify for a badge. It will be up to local authorities to decide whether applicants meet the eligibility criteria.
Review looks at Blue Badge fraud
The expansion of the scheme coincides with the launch of a review aimed at helping councils tackle Blue Badge fraud.
The Local Government Association estimated at the end of 2018 that the theft of Blue Badges had risen by 45% in 12 months.
The review will look at making sure Blue Badges are used correctly and improving public understanding so that people with non-visible disabilities can use the badges with confidence.