The Blue Badge scheme currently operating in England is set to undergo a significant change next year, to extend eligibility to those with ‘hidden disabilities’.
As it currently stands, the scheme operating in England allows people with physical disabilities to park (outside of Central London) free of charge in public pay and display car parks and on double yellow lines for up to 3 hours.
For many people, this scheme is a ‘life line’, removing potential barriers to going out and carrying out ‘every day’ tasks such a shopping, meeting friends and going to work. Whilst it does make provision in relation to the physical challenges people face, it does not take into account the emotional and psychological battles many people tackle when leaving the house. – The new system will.
Problems with mobility; planning your trip; finding your way around; remembering routes; meeting new faces; meeting the unexpected; crowds; noise and having to juggle with lots of items or information can be extremely problematic for some people – whether it is a trip to the shops or to a medical appointment or to a school or workplace. It can stop them from living their lives as they would like to. They can become dependent on others and miss out on everyday activities. These issues can be just as debilitating as physical ones.
According to gov.uk, the changes to the criteria for Blue Badges to be introduced in 2019 include extending eligibility to those who:
- Cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism)
- Cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress
- Have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking)
If you or a loved one face challenges when you are out and about and this is preventing you from living your life as fully as you would wish, the introduction of the new system could make a significant difference.
If you would like further information regarding the Blue Badge scheme and details regarding the application process, this can be found by visiting https://www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge.