The Government has today implemented the expanded Blue Badge scheme which will now include people who have non-visible disabilities.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that expanding the parking permit will make travel ‘easier’ for people with hidden disabilities, including anxiety disorders or a brain injury.
The Blue Badge scheme enables people with physical disabilities to park closer to their destination than other drivers.
‘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,’ Mr Shapps said.
‘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 Department for Transport has agreed with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to provide £1.7m in the first year of the programme to help councils with the expected increase in applications.
Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson commented: ‘Today is a pivotal moment for thousands of people with hidden disabilities across the country, many of whom face unacceptable discrimination or even abuse when using disabled parking spaces.
‘The changes we’re making will be life-changing for these disabled people, allowing them to go about their daily lives without experiencing unnecessary stress or worry.’
However, Confused.com said there are on average 30 Blue Badge holders ‘battling’ for each dedicated council-owned parking space, something it said the expansion of Blue Badges is likely to worsen.
The firm said its research had found that 74% of councils do not currently plan to expand the number of disabled parking bays.
It added that overall, the expansion of the scheme has been well received by drivers, with almost half (48%) seeing it as a positive move.