The UK government will be implementing the biggest change to the Blue Badge disabled parking scheme since its inception in 1970 from Friday 30th August 2019. People with less visible disabilities may now be able to access Blue Badges and benefit from accessible parking spaces in the UK.
Who can apply for a Blue Badge now?
This year, the criteria for Blue Badge eligibility will be changing. The UK government is extending access to Blue Badges for people with hidden disabilities and not just immediately visible mobility problems. This will include people with autism, anxiety, or dementia amongst other mental and psychological conditions. As well as individual adults, parents can apply for a Blue Badge if they have a child with one of the newly eligible conditions. Under these new rules, a person qualifies for a Blue Badge if:
- They receive 8 or more points in the “moving around” part of the PIP mobility component assessment
- They get the PIP mobility component and also receive 10+ points in “planning and following journeys” due to “overwhelming psychological distress” during this activity
- They take an assessment deciding whether they can make a journey without the risk of serious harm, considerable psychological distress, or difficulty walking (not just physically)
What are people saying about the new Blue Badge rules?
Many people are happy about these changes because it will make life easier for lots more people. The Minister of State for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, described this change as “a watershed moment” for people with hidden disabilities because it makes it easier for them to be independent. Jane Harris, the director of external affairs at the National Autistic Society, also said that it will be “life-changing” for people with autism especially. Many charities and organizations are praising this development, but are also wary about how well it will work. Ceri Smith from Scope, the charity for disability equality, said that there is more to be done to ensure that there are enough Blue Badge parking spaces for everyone who needs them. Kat Humble of Autistic UK agreed, stating that there is a lot of room left for improvement in this area regarding discrimination and fraud as well. Accordingly, the UK government is providing £1.7 million to councils to help them to cope with the demand for Blue Badge services. There will also be a new task force for cracking down on Blue Badge fraud, which can improve the availability of spaces.
How do you apply for a Blue Badge?
The new rules will apply to Blue Badge applicants from 30th August this year. You can easily apply for a Blue Badge online or renew a Blue Badge online here. However, you must be able to provide scanned images of the required documents and the requested details like your National Insurance Number. You can find out more about other ways to apply for a Blue Badge here. A Blue Badge can cost up to £10-£20 around the UK.