As we covered back in January, the government was considering tightening up its proposals around its Blue Badge scheme. A Blue Badge will help you to park your car close to your destination, either as a passenger or driver.

Currently, the rules only apply to those with physical disabilities, as they are generally less able to take public transport or walk longer distances. However, people with hidden disabilities such as autism, mental health conditions and indeed dementia, will now soon have access to the Blue Badge scheme. As the badge is linked to the individual and not the car, this means that people caring for those with dementia can now benefit from the scheme too, and the applicant doesn’t need to be able to drive to apply.

The changes will take place early next year.

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.

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

* 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)

Current guidelines about Blue Badge eligibility are open to interpretation, and whilst a few councils do recognise the ‘hidden disabilities’, many don’t. This means some people with dementia find they can get a Blue Badge…and others can’t. These new guidelines are much clearer and should make life easier for those living with dementia, and their carers.

You can apply or renew a Blue Badge here.