The Blue Badge scheme which allows holders to park for free in pay and display bays and up to three hours on roads with yellow lines is about to undergo a massive overhaul.
Now people with “hidden disabilities” such as autism and other mental health conditions will now also be able to apply for a blue badge permit starting from 31st August 2019.
This marks the biggest change in the scheme for 40 years and is fantastic news for people who are unable to make a journey without a “risk of serious harm to health and safety”. The new scheme will also benefit parents who have children with mental health issues and for people who suffer from anxiety.
Jane Harris from the National Autistic Society, explains "Just leaving the house is a challenge for many autistic people, involving detailed preparation - and sometimes overwhelming anxiety about plans going wrong. Jane also explained that “some autistic people might not be aware of the dangers of the road or become overwhelmed by busy or loud environments.”
The latest records indicate there are about 600,000 autistic people living in England and is one great example of how the new rules will benefit a new range of disabled people (NAS, 2019).
The Blue Badge scheme was first introduced in 1970 and around 2.4 million disabled people in England currently own one. The importance of having a Blue Badge cannot be underestimated.
Transport minister Jessie Norman exclaimed that the blue badge “prevents a life of isolation”. Sarah Newton, a minister for disabled people, health and work, added “It’s absolutely right that disabled people are able to go about their daily life without worrying about how they will get from one place to another.” Jane Harris stressed the importance this new scheme will have on the lives of people with mental health issues commenting “Just leaving the house is a challenge” which can involve “detailed preparation - and sometimes overwhelming anxiety about plans going wrong.”
These changes were introduced following an eight-week consultation which had more than 6,000 responses. The new rules come into effect on 31st August 2019.
What are the benefits of having a Blue Badge?
Blue Badge holders and other disabled people pay a reduced rate, or no fee, at some river crossings bridges and tunnels. If you live in or visit London you will not have to pay the congestion charge.A Blue Badge usually lets you park for free on streets with parking meters or pay-and-display machines for as long as you need to. For more details please check with your local council.A Blue Badge usually lets you park for free in disabled parking bays on streets for as long as you need to, unless a sign says there is a time limit. Your Blue Badge usually lets you park for free on single or double yellow lines for up to 3 hours unless there’s a ‘no loading’ sign but some local councils will even allow parking even if there is a ‘no loading sign’.
How Do I apply for a Blue Badge?
You can apply online by going to https://www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge. Before you start you will need the following:
- A digital or signed photo
- National insurance number
- Proof of identification
- Proof of residency
For questions about the Blue Badge scheme contact Warwickshire County Council via email: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/disabledparkingbadge or 01926 410410 (Mon-Fri, 8am-6.30pm or Sat, 9am-1pm).
For any information or advice on other equality services, please contact the Equality and Inclusion Partnership (EQuIP) on 0330 135 6606, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit the EQuIP website at www.equipequality.org.uk.