People in Fareham with hidden disabilities, including anxiety disorders or a brain injury, can apply for a Blue Badge for the first time from today (30 August 2019).
The Department for Transport (DfT) has issued new guidance to councils in England on Blue Badge parking permit eligibility, along with a new online eligibility checker to make the scheme clearer for people before they apply.
In the biggest change to Blue Badges since the 1970s, the DfT has been working with specialists to expand the eligibility criteria for the badges, which now includes people who cannot walk as part of a journey without considerable psychological distress or the risk of serious harm.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“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.”
The government’s ambitious Inclusive Transport Strategy, changes to the Blue Badge scheme and the Access for All programme will continue the UK’s internationally-leading plans for fully-accessible transport.
The Blue Badge scheme already means people with physical disabilities can park closer to their destination than other drivers, as they are less able to take public transport or walk longer distances.
Plans to extend the scheme to those with non-visible conditions were announced last summer following an 8 week consultation. It is an important part of the government’s drive for greater parity between physical and mental health.
It will offer a lifeline to people who often find road travel difficult by providing better access to work and other amenities, while also helping combat loneliness by helping them stay connected to family and friends.
Welcoming the changes, Fareham MP Suella Braverman said:
“Hidden disabilities can be just as painful, tiring and debilitating as noticeable physical disabilities and I’m therefore very pleased to see these changes that will have a positive impact on the every-day lives of many people in Fareham who previously could not access a Blue Badge.
“The extension of the Blue Badge scheme shows that we are becoming more aware of the stresses that people with hidden disabilities face, and this is a very encouraging step in easing unnecessary stresses for many people across Fareham and the country.”