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Blue badge scheme is extended to those with 'hidden disabilities'

People with hidden disabilities, such as dementia and anxiety disorders, will be able to access blue badge parking permits from tomorrow, thanks to the roll out of new guidance to councils in England.

The blue badge scheme helps disabled people to park closer to their destination, for example, by allowing them to park in specific car parking spaces.

Similar rules allowing those with hidden disabilities to apply for the badges exist in Scotland and Wales already.

Who is eligible for a blue badge?

Some people are automatically able to get a blue badge. You'll be able to get one if you:

  • Are registered as blind.
  • Get the higher rate of the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA).
  • Get personal independence payment (PIP) and scored eight points or more in the 'moving around' area of your assessment – check your decision letter if you're not sure.
  • Get war pensioners' mobility supplement.
  • Received a lump sum payment as part of the armed forces compensation scheme (tariffs one to eight), and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability.

If you don't meet this criteria you might still be able to get a badge, but you'll have to fill in an extra part of the application to show why you need one. Under the new guidance, eligibility for permits will be extended to those with hidden disabilities, including:

  • People who cannot travel without risk of serious harm to their health and safety or someone else's (such as young children with autism).
  • People who cannot travel without "very considerable psychological distress".
  • People who have very considerable difficulty when walking, meaning "both the physical act and experience of walking".

A full description of the rules can be found on the Government website.

How do you apply for a blue badge?

You can apply for a new badge or renew one on the Government website.

A blue badge costs up to £10 in England and £20 in Scotland. It's free in Wales.

Your application will be sent to your council and it makes the decision on your eligibility.

Where can you park with a blue badge?

If you have a blue badge you can park in places other drivers can't. It's linked to you rather than a vehicle, so you can use it with any car. This includes taxis that you're travelling in as a passenger.

When you get your blue badge you should be given a leaflet from your council, as the rules do differ from council to council. Here are some examples of where a blue badge usually lets you park for free (but always check local rules):

  • On streets with parking meters or pay-and-display machines for as long as you need to.
  • In disabled parking bays on streets for as long as you need to, unless a sign says there is a time limit.
  • On single or double yellow lines for up to three hours, unless there's a 'no loading' sign.

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