There’s good news if you suffer from an ‘invisible’ disability: the Blue Badge scheme is being extended so that you’ll now be eligible to apply. If your application is successful, this means you’ll be able to park in designated disabled parking spaces, as well as being able to park in other normally restricted places such as double yellow lines (for up to three hours).
Until now, the scheme has only been available for those with physical disabilities, with around 2.35 million people currently in possession of a Blue Badge. Now, in what’s being described as the biggest shake-up to the scheme in 50 years, it’s being opened up to those suffering from disabilities that aren’t immediately obvious from looking at someone, such as dementia, autism or brain injuries. You’ll still need to meet the eligibility criteria set by your local council, but it’s hoped that the move will make life easier for a huge number of people living with disability.
The extension of the scheme to cover hidden disabilities has been welcomed by the charity Scope, but, as the BBC reports, has also raised concerns that councils will need to ensure there are enough disabled parking spaces to cover the number of extra Blue Badge holders. The Local Government Association echoed these concerns and added that it was also incumbent on private parking operators to ensure that there are sufficient disabled parking spaces in the wake of the scheme’s extension.
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, had this to say about the changes:
“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. It is my sincere wish that these changes will improve even more people’s lives.”
You can find your local council’s own information on the Blue Badge scheme by searching on this page of the Government website.