Government changes Blue Badge parking permits to support “hidden disabilities”

Published: 02 August 2018

Government changes Blue Badge parking permits to support “hidden disabilities”
The government have recently updated their disabled parking scheme, meaning those with “hidden disabilities” such as mental health conditions will now be able to access disabled parking spaces if they apply for a blue badge. While some consider this a progressive step for those with mental disabilities, others are concerned it will decrease the amount of spaces available for those who are physically disabled.

This is the biggest overhaul the government have applied to the system currently in place for decades. The scheme currently enables those who have less access to destinations due to physical disabilities access to spaces much closer to their chosen destination, making public areas much more accessible for those who may require the assistance of a wheelchair or crutches.

This overhaul would mean those with “hidden” disabilities will be able to apply for Blue Badged from “early 2019”

While the current scheme is “open to interpretation” to local authorities who monitor spaces, they will now be given further clarity on the terms that require a driver to have access to one of these spaces. Some local councils are fully aware of these concerns and have already taken action to ensure spaces, while others lack such services. Which is why many members of the public have been campaigning to make more spaces available for those who are physically/mentally disabled meaning a scheme such as this could be applied on a nationwide scale without having an impact on the current amount of spaces available for the physically disabled.

This is a part of the Government striving for “greater parity between physical and mental health conditions”
They claim this will be supporting an additional 44,000 drivers in the first year of the plans increasing to 177,700 people during the next decade. The Mirror criticised the move as a U-turn, considering the fact that the amount of Blue Badge holders decreased by over 250,000 following the Conservatives coming into power.

The updated criteria extends to those with mental health issues, this includes those who:

- Would be unable to complete a journey without a chance of risk or serious harm to their own health and safety or others (this includes children with mental health issues such as autism)
- Cannot complete travels without falling under serious psychological distress
- Have difficulty while walking (this includes the physical movement and mental experience while walking)
Jesse Norman, Transport Minister spoke regarding the matter: 

"Blue badges are a lifeline for disabled people, giving them the freedom and confidence to get to work and visit friends independently.

"The changes we have announced today will ensure that this scheme is extended equally to people with hidden disabilities, so that they can enjoy the freedoms many of us take for granted."

The Minister for disabled people, health and work , Sarah Newton also spoke about the changes: 

"It's absolutely right that disabled people are able to go about their daily life without worrying about how they will get from one place to another. We're taking an important step forward in ensuring people with hidden disabilities get the support they need to live independently."

Other governments in the UK have stated that these updated terms will not have an impact on what they offer as their terms for blue badges were previously updated to suit those with mental as well as physical health concerns.
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