Blue Badge scheme extended to include hidden disabilities
Monday 30th July 2018
Over the weekend, the government announced that the Blue Badge scheme in England will be expanded to include people with hidden disabilities, such as autism or mental illnesses.
This is the biggest change to the Blue Badge scheme since the 1970s. It comes after an eight-week consultation, which received over 6,000 responses.
As a result of the consultation, automatic entitlement to the Blue Badge will be extended to those in England who score 10 points under the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) mobility test of being "unable to undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant".
Those who get PIP mobility for other reasons will not qualify for a Blue Badge automatically, but they may still be able to qualify for a Blue Badge on alternative grounds if they fall into one of three groups.
They have an enduring and substantial disability, the effect of which is that that person is unable to walk or undertake a journey without it causing very considerable difficulty when walking
They have an enduring and substantial disability, the effect of which is that that person is unable to undertake a journey without there being a reasonably foreseeable risk of serious harm to the health and safety of that person or any other person
They have an enduring and substantial disability, the effect of which is that that person is unable to undertake a journey without it causing very considerable psychological distress to that person
People in England who fall into one of these three groups will qualify for a Blue Badge (regardless of whether they get PIP or not). However to qualify they will need to be assessed as falling into one of these groups by their local authority.
The government will develop guidance to be used by local authorities in assessing eligibility later this year, and the new rules are not expected to come into force until some point in 2019.
Derek Sinclair, our welfare adviser, said: "We get many calls to our helpline on entitlement to Blue Badge, which we have raised with the government in previous consultations, so these changes are very welcome. The previous guidelines were ambiguous and open to interpretation for those with hidden disabilities. The new rules are clearer for families, and it will now be easier for them to plan journeys where they can rely on finding a nearby parking space."
Similar rules already apply in Wales and Scotland. There will remain differences between the nations once these new rules come into place.
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