People with hidden disabilities are set to benefit from improved access to travel when new eligibility criteria for Blue Badges come into effect this month.
New guidance has been issued by the Department of Transport (DfT) to local authorities to introduce eligibility for people with non-physical disabilities such as autism and mental health conditions. The changes will remove the barriers many people face when travelling if they are unable to park close to their destination.
The DfT held an eight-week public consultation earlier this year and will now introduce the wider eligibility on 30 August, when people who meet the criteria will be able to apply for the first time.
Councillor Neil Butters, cabinet member for Transport Services, said, “This new criteria for Blue Badges demonstrates a greater equality in the way physical and mental health conditions are considered. Enabling people with mobility problems to access goods and services more readily is important for their wellbeing and quality of life.”
The Blue Badge eligibility has been extended to people who:
cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health and 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 walking, (both the physical act and the experience of walking)
Applications under the new criteria can only be made from 30th August 2019 and online at https://www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge. Advice and support on the application process is available at Bath and North East Somerset Council’s One Stop Shops.