People with ‘hidden disabilities’ could soon have greater access to blue badge parking permits in England, under new Government proposals.
The Department for Transport (DfT) hopes the move will make it easier for people with conditions such as dementia and autism to travel to work, socialise and access shops and amenities.
The changes could also see a variety of healthcare professionals, who are better placed to identify if mental health causes mobility issues, carry out assessments to determine if a blue badge should be given.
Transport Minister Jesse Norman 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.”
Around 2.4 million people in England have a blue badge, enabling them to park on roads without charge and normally without time limit.
According to the DfT, three-quarters of blue badge holders say they would go out less often if they did not have one.
Sarah Lambert, head of policy at The National Autistic Society, said changing parking permit access could be “a lifeline” for many autistic people, who often do not qualify under current regulations.
She added: “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.
“The National Autistic Society has raised this issue with Government over recent years and we are pleased to see they have listened to the concerns of autistic people and their families.”
A consultation on the proposed changes will last eight weeks. For more information go to: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/blue-badge-disabled-parking-scheme-eligibility-review
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