The Government has published plans to expand the eligibility criteria for Blue Badge parking permits to help give people in England with less visable conditions better access to shops, services and their place of work.
The announcement followed new guidance for local authorities in England after an eight-week consultation and is the biggest change to the Blue Badge scheme since it was first introduced in 1970. 2.35 million people currently have a blue badge in the UK because of a physical mobility issue or because they are registered blind.
The new guidance means that people with hidden disabilities can apply for a Blue Badge from 30th August 2019. Conditions that will be considered include (but are not limited to):
Local authorities will still have the final say on who will actually qualify for a permit. In the past, local authorities could not exclude people with hidden disabilities, but granting permission for a Blue Badge was open to interpretation. These changes give councils much clearer guidelines to follow.
The changes aim to support people who suffer from extreme psychological distress caused by travelling, who risk serious harm to themselves or others when they take a journey or who experience considerable difficulty when walking. It is also hoped that the changes will help to combat lonliness by making it easier for people to stay in touch with friends and family.
The Blue Badge Scheme currently helps people with a physical disability that impairs their ability to walk and reduces their capacity to access the benefits of public transport.
The scheme allows people to park in designated bays in car parks and on single or double yellow lines on main public roads for up to 3 hours, provided it is safe to do so and at least 15 metres from a junction.
People with a physical disability over two years of age are automatically eligible for a Blue Badge if they meet at least one the following criteria:
Parents of a children under 3 who need to travel with bulky medical equipment can also apply for a blue badge, as can drivers with a severe disability in both arms who may find it difficult to use equipment like a parking meter.
If you live in England or Wales and want to check your eligibility or apply for a Blue Badge visit the the gov.uk website. Drivers in Scotland should visit mygov.scot, and people in Northern Ireland need to go to nidirect.gov.uk.