Blue Badge scheme extended to those with hidden disabilities

The Government said it’s the biggest change to the scheme in 50 years with the extended criteria coming into force on 30 August 2019.

New guidance was issued on 15 June meaning that people with hidden disabilities will soon be able to access Blue Badge parking permits. 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.” 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.” A review has also been launched into Blue Badge fraud and ways of reducing misuse. At the end of 2018, the Local Government Association estimated that the theft of Blue Badges had risen by 45% in 12 months and increased six-fold since 2013. In terms of the detail of the changes the Government said: “While the new criteria will give clear and consistent guidelines on Blue Badge eligibility for the whole of England, not everyone with non-physical disabilities will qualify for a badge. It will be up to the relevant local authority to decide if an applicant meets the eligibility criteria, as is currently the case.” The Department for Transport worked with specialists to expand the eligibility criteria for the badges, which will now include people who cannot walk as part of a journey without considerable psychological distress or the risk of serious harm. The extension of these badges to those with less visible conditions was announced last summer following an eight-week consultation on widening the eligibility criteria. Last year, the government set out its plans to improve accessibility across all modes of transport in the Inclusive Transport Strategy which launched on 25 July 2018. The strategy aims to make the UK’s transport network fully inclusive by 2030.  You can read the full detail of the changes to the Blue Badge scheme here.  
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