On the 29th July the government announced that following a nearly 7 week consultation process they had made the decision that people with hidden disabilities, including autism and mental health conditions will soon have access to Blue Badges.
This has been met with equal measure of applause and complaint.
On one side, Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at the National Autistic Society, said:
“Today’s Blue Badge announcement will make a massive difference to the lives of many of the 600,000 autistic people in England, and their families.
Just leaving the house is a challenge for many autistic people, involving detailed preparation – and sometimes overwhelming anxiety about plans going wrong. And some autistic people might not be aware of the dangers of the road or become overwhelmed by busy or loud environments. The possibility of not being able to find a parking space near where you’re going can mean you can’t contemplate leaving the house at all.”
Whilst on twitter there have been statements of:
“Changes to the Blue Badge Criteria could cause parking chaos!” @DisMotoringUK
“This is a very bad move. Number of #disabledbays too small already. Now those with the most need #mobility #disability will lose out to those with non-mobility #disabilities. #Need more spaces and better #policing first.” @BadgeUK
So what are the facts about this announcement?
The new criteria will extend eligibility to people who:
- cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism)
- cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress
- have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking)
When will the new changes come into effect?
- The Department for Transport will now work with stakeholders to develop new guidance to help them administer their Blue Badge schemes when these changes come into force.
- The strategy aims to make the UK’s transport network fully inclusive by 2030.
It is clear that the key to getting the implementation of these changes in place will be the work the government will undertake with stakeholders to get the assessment process standardised, and to ensure that each individual Local Authority provides a sufficient amount of parking bays and facilities to cope with the increased number of Blue Badge Holders in their areas. It is about ensuring existing facilities aren’t diminished for current Blue Badge holders but ensuring new Blue Badge holders get the facilities they also deserve.
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