People with invisible disabilities will now be eligible for Blue Badge parking permits, it was announced today (June 15).
The Department for Transport today issued new guidance to councils, advising that those with conditions such as dementia, anxiety disorders, and reduced mobility could be eligible for the scheme.
Recognising conditions such as those mentioned above make travelling a far more stressful situation, the government have described the changes as a ‘watershed moment’.
The new guidance, which represents the biggest change in the scheme since the 1970s, will offer a lifeline to people who might otherwise find travelling difficult.
By providing better access to their destinations, whether it be work or a shopping facility, the change will make travel more accessible for a wide variety of people.
However, not everyone with an invisible disability will qualify for a badge and it will ultimately be up to the relevant local authority to see whether an applicant meets the the criteria – as is currently the case.
As reported by The Guardian, there are currently approximately 2.35 million Blue Badge holders in the UK at present.
The Department for Transport couldn’t estimate how many more people would qualify after the new guidance comes into play.
The extensive scheme coincides with the launch of a new task force to help councils tackle fraudulent use of the badges, after the Local Government Association estimated that theft of the parking permits rose by 45 per cent in 2018 alone.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:
As a society we don’t do enough for people with hidden disabilities. I hope this change to Blue Badge guidance will make a real difference to people’s lives.
The Blue Badge scheme allows people with physical disabilities to park closer to their destination than other drivers.
The Department for Transport has been working with specialists to expand the eligibility criteria for the badges, which will now take psychological factors such as anxiety into distress.
The 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.
The extended criteria will come into force from August 30.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58, and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).