People with 'Invisible' Disabilities Allowed to Apply for Blue Badge Parking Permits
Monday, 17th June 2019
People with ‘invisible’ disabilities including dementia will soon be able to access blue badge parking permits, thanks to the rollout of new government guidance.
The new guidance will offer a lifeline for drivers or passengers with dementia, anxiety disorders or reduced mobility. The anticipation of travel difficulties such as finding a parking space can build on top of the stress of the journey itself. It also helps combat loneliness by enabling drivers to stay connected to family and friends.
Sally Copley, director of policy, partnerships and campaigns, at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This decision will be an absolute game-changer for people living with dementia. It will bring great benefit to many of the 850,000 people currently living with dementia in the UK. As it’s a progressive condition, people with dementia’s abilities, including physical actions like walking, can rapidly decline over time. Combined with symptoms like anxiety and confusion, this means simple but essential tasks that most of us take for granted, like going to the shops or a doctor’s appointment, can become a real struggle. We shared these experiences of people with dementia with the department for transport and are thrilled our evidence helped lead to this decision."
“People with dementia have the right to maintain their independence and continue doing the things they enjoy. Making these badges accessible for people with dementia helps them to do this. A task group will be set up with key organisations to gather ideas and evidence on how to improve the consistency of council enforcement to tackle fraud and misuse.”
The blue badge (disabled persons’ parking) scheme was introduced in 1971 under Section 21 of the chronically sick and disabled persons act 1970. The aim of the scheme is to help disabled people with severe mobility problems to access goods and services, by allowing them to park close to their destination. The scheme is open to eligible disabled people irrespective of whether they are travelling as a driver or as a passenger.
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. It is an important part of the government’s drive for greater parity between physical and mental health.
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.”
The review will look at ensuring blue badges are used correctly and improving public understanding so that those with hidden disabilities can use the badges with confidence.
Justin Tomlinson minister for disabled people 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.”
To help councils with the expected increase in applications, the department has agreed with the ministry of housing, communities and local government to provide £1.7 million in the first year of the programme.