People with hidden disabilities could soon be entitled to blue badge car parking permits.
The Department for Transport is considering changing the rules of eligibility so people with “invisible” conditions such as dementia and autism could benefit from the scheme.
It said the relaxation of the rules would make it easier for them to travel to work, socialise, access services and go about their daily lives with a little more comfort and dignity.
The move would represent the biggest change to the scheme since it was introduced in Britain almost half a century ago.
New blue badge eligibility rules would create “parity”
The change would also help create parity in the treatment of physical and mental health patients.
The DfT said councils up and down the country interpreted existing blue badge rules differently with only a few recognising hidden disabilities.
A spokesman said the change would provide “clear and consistent” guidelines for all councils to follow.
The changes are being put to an eight-week public consultation and include badge assessments to be carried out by a greater variety of healthcare professionals who can spot whether mental illness is causing mobility problems.
Special benefits available for blue badge holders
About 2.4 million disabled people in England have a blue badge.
This enables them to park free of charge in pay-and-display bays and for up to three hours on yellow lines.
Badge holders can also use certain tolls roads, such as the M6 Toll road, the Severn Crossing and the QEII bridge over the River Thames for free.
In London meanwhile blue badge holders are exempt from having to pay the congestion charge.
Approximately three out of four badge holders say they would go out less often if they did not have a badge, according to the DfT.
Check out the Chartwell Insurance blue badge FaQs.