Blue badges: UK charities welcome introduction of parking permits for people with ‘hidden disabilities’
In what marks the largest overhaul of the current system in 40 years, the Department for Transport has confirmed that, from 2019, those with unseen disabilities will now be granted permits enabling them to park closer to their destinations.
Citing the fact that current rules concerning the badge scheme are “open to interpretation” by local authorities, the government has said the new scheme will help to offer greater clarity.
Transport minister Jesse Norman said: “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 that many of us take for granted.”
Having recognised that people with mental health problems often struggle with the same travel issues as the physically disabled, the government has now moved to accommodate individuals with less obvious disabilities.
Under the new criteria, those eligible for a parking permit include individuals who cannot make a journey without “a risk of serious harm to their health or safety”, or that of others, and those for whom journeys cause “very considerable psychological distress”, such as people with autism.
The initiative has drawn support from a number of UK charities, including the Mental Health Foundation, Mind and the National Autistic Society.
Isabella Goldie, director of Mental Health Foundation, told The Independent: “We welcome the news that the Blue Badge initiative is being extended to people with mental health issues.
“For many people, having the ability to be assured a parking space can help encourage them to go out and engage with people and avoid becoming isolated and cut off at home.
“This also recognises that tasks that many of us take for granted – like going to the shops – can be deeply distressing for some people with mental health problems. A simple thing like being able to park a car easily, can make a significant difference.
“It is also another step to creating a society in which we take mental health problems as seriously as we take physical health problems and create real parity between the two.”
Vicki Nash, head of policy and campaigns at Mind, said: “We’re really pleased that more people with mental health problems should now be able to access blue badges. This is an important step in the right direction – showing greater recognition of the many barriers faced by some people with mental health problems when it comes to leaving the house and making journeys.”
Jane Harris, director of external affairs at the National Autistic Society, said the change would “make a massive difference to the lives of many of the 600,000 autistic people in England, and their families”.
The badge scheme was launched in 1970 and currently around 2.4 million disabled people in England benefit from the service.
The permit costs £10 from local authorities, and those in London are also exempt from the Congestion Charge.
Around three out of four blue badge holders say they would go out less often if they did not have one, the DfT previously said.
The change to the system follows an eight-week consultation launched in January which had more than 6,000 responses.
Read the full article online: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/blue-badge-parking-permit-hidden-disability-autism-disabled-driving-a8467536.html
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Blue badges: UK charities welcome introduction of parking permits for people with ‘hidden disabilities’ - 30 Jul 2018
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