People with hidden disabilities entitled to blue badge under new scheme

The blue badge scheme could soon be extended to those with hidden disabilities such as autism and dementia, reports have revealed.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the proposals would help remove barriers to travel for people with non-physical disabilities and allow them better access to work, shops, and amenities.

It added that the measures would help create “parity” between physical and mental health.

The latest figures indicate that around 2.4 million people in England hold a blue badge, which allows individuals to legally park in designated disabled spots – often next to or very near to the entrance of public amenities.

Of those, 75 per cent of blue badge holders said they would “go out less often” if it were not for the scheme.

Jesse Norman, Transport Minister, said: “Blue badges give people with disabilities the freedom to get jobs, see friends or go to the shops with as much ease as possible.

“We want to try to extend this to people with invisible disabilities, so they can enjoy the freedom to get out and about, where and when they want.

Sarah Lambert, Head of Policy at the National Autistic Society, added: “The National Autistic Society welcomes this government proposal. It could mean that many more autistic people will qualify for a Blue Badge, which can be a lifeline.

“There are an estimated 700,000 autistic people in the UK and whilst every person on the autism spectrum is different, for some, not being able to park in a predictable place close to a destination can cause a great deal of anxiety and put their safety at risk. Some autistic people can experience too much information from the environment around them on public transport, while other autistic people might not be aware of dangers on the road.

The report indicates that healthcare professionals will carry out assessments to determine who will qualify for a blue badge.