My live radio interview with BBC radio Bristol about what its like living with an invisible disability. I’m grateful for the BBC for inviting me in & allowing me to share my thoughts.
As of Friday 30/08/19, people with hidden disabilities in England are now also eligible to apply for blue badges.
Scope welcomed the move but said if spaces are scarce, the badges “are not worth the paper they’re printed on”.
The Local Government Association said councils regularly review parking.
Currently, about 2.35 million people with physical disabilities in England have a blue badge.
Blue badge holders are allowed to park in spaces which might be restricted to other drivers, for example parking on yellow lines for up to three hours, for free in pay and display bays, or in spaces designated “disabled”.
Under Friday’s change – which is the biggest shake-up of the blue badge scheme since it was introduced nearly 50 years ago – people with hidden disabilities, such as dementia, autism or anxiety disorders will also be eligible to apply for the permits.
However, not everyone with hidden disabilities will qualify for a badge, as it will still be up to local councils to decide if an applicant meets the eligibility criteria.
The change has been widely welcomed by charities, including the head of the National Autistic Society, who called it a “huge relief”.
“A blue badge can be life-changing,” said Tim Nicholls, from the charity, who said many autistic people are often so anxious they may find it hard to leave the house.
Ceri Smith, policy and campaigns manager at Scope, also welcomed the move, saying it would make a “real difference” to disabled people with invisible impairments.
However she added: “But in order for it to work, it’s vital that councils issue blue badges to people who are newly eligible to apply.
“More also needs to be done by councils to ensure that there are enough allocated blue badge spaces near shops and amenities to meet increasing demand.”