Thousands benefit from extended Blue Badge scheme
New rules have widened Blue Badge eligibility criteria to help people with Parkinson’s, dementia, epilepsy and other 'invisible' disabilities.
In the past three months, 12,299 new badges were granted to people who cannot walk as part of a journey without considerable psychological distress or the risk of serious harm, as well as to people with a non-visible disability.
The new rules, introduced in August by the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, widened the eligibility criteria to ensure that people with ‘invisible’ disabilities are not disadvantaged. The badges help people access shops and services, by enabling them to park closer to their destinations.
“People with hidden conditions like these have to fight not just their disability, but the psychological worry that others may not recognise them as disabled,” Grant Shapps said. “I’m proud that our reform is already changing thousands of people’s lives, allowing those in need to carry on their daily lives with more confidence and helping combat loneliness and isolation.
While the new criteria give clear guidelines on Blue Badge eligibility, not everyone with non-visible disabilities will qualify for a badge. Local authorities decide if an applicant meets the eligibility criteria, as is currently the case. The Department for Transport has issued a new online eligibility checker to make the scheme clearer for people before they apply.