Gov extends Blue Badge scheme to include hidden disabilities
Epilepsy Society has welcomed a Government decision to extend its Blue Badge scheme to people with hidden disabilities such as epilepsy.
It is the biggest change to the scheme since the 1970s and extends the eligibility criteria to include anyone who cannot walk as part of a journey without causing considerable psychological distress or risk of serious harm.
Benefits for people with epilepsy
Clare Pelham, Chief Executive at Epilepsy Society said: "We strongly welcome these changes and all the benefits they will bring for those with epilepsy and other hidden disabilities.
“Epilepsy can cause significant difficulty for people when walking long distances, and this change will go some way to making their lives easier. It is good to see the Government supporting wider public understanding of the needs of people with invisible disabilities."
Parity between physical and mental health
The extension to the scheme is part of the Government's drive for greater parity between physical and mental health which includes plans for fully accessible transport.
The scheme is not condition-specific and eligibility depends on how a person is affected by their condition. A person's mobility will be considered following criteria used for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Where anxiety is an issue, this must be evidence based.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: "We will need more than just a letter from a GP to support a person's application around anxiety. They will need to prove that they are undergoing a treatment programme for their anxiety at a hospital and that they have appropriate psychiatric or psychological reports.
"Similarly, in terms of mobility, we will need to see up-to-date evidence of the applicants's annual award for PIP or DLA.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We know that for some people, the possibility of not being able to find a parking space can make even leaving the house a challenge, which is why the Blue Badge is so important.
"The scheme, which is already a lifeline for so many disabled people, will make a huge difference to those with non-visible conditions. It is my sincere wish that these changes will improve even more people’s lives."
When you're not the driver
The Blue Badge is awarded to an individual and does not require the person to have a driving licence or be the driver. Nor do they need to be over the age of 17. This means that even if a person with uncontrolled seizures cannot drive, they can apply for a badge which can then be used by a carer, family, friend or taxi, as long as the badge holder is in the vehicle. This was already specified as part of the scheme.
How to apply
You can find out whether you are eligible for a Blue Badge here.