Disabled badge holders only sign

The Government has today issued guidance to help local authorities in England to implement upcoming changes to the Blue Badge scheme, which were announced last summer. The expanded eligibility criteria will come into force on 30 August and will mean that many more autistic people qualify for a Blue Badge.

To help councils with an expected increase in applications and to train staff in implementing the new regulations, the Government will provide £1.7 million to help local authorities in the first year of the programme.

Not all autistic people need a Blue Badge. But it can be a lifeline for many autistic people and their families – helping them to go out in ways other people take for granted. We’ve asked four families to tell us why Blue Badges are so important to them – read their stories on the news section of our website. You can read more about this on the Government’s website.

What will the new rules mean?

Under the new rules, there will be two important new ways that autistic people may qualify for a Blue Badge:

  • You could be eligible subject to a further assessment if you can’t undertake a journey without being at risk of serious harm, it causing “very considerable psychological distress”, or if you have very considerable difficulty when walking.
  • You should be automatically eligible if you have qualified for PIP Mobility Component and have scored 10 points for “planning and making a journey” because making a journey causes “overwhelming psychological distress”.

Children who get Higher Rate Mobility Disability Living Allowance (HRMDLA) will also continue to qualify, as before.

Reaction

Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at the National Autistic Society, said: "The changes will make a huge difference to thousands of autistic people and their families across England – helping them to go out in the way many others take for granted.

"The old rules were too focused on people’s physical ability to walk, and changes to Government guidance in 2014 meant that many autistic people couldn't get a badge.

“Just leaving the house is incredibly difficult for many autistic people – and involves detailed preparation. Some autistic people have no concept of the dangers of the road while others are so anxious about plans going wrong, like not being able to find a parking space, that they don’t go out at all. Having a Blue Badge will be life-changing and help many to reduce loneliness and isolation.

"For the new rules to work, council officials making decisions about Blue Badges need to understand autism and how it can affect people’s ability to travel around. Implementing the new guidance properly is central to making this a reality."

Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said: "It’s unacceptable that people with hidden disabilities still face discrimination when using disabled facilities like parking spaces.

“Extending the Blue Badge scheme is a watershed moment in ensuring those with hidden disabilities are able to travel with greater ease and live more independent lives.”

Further information

  • The changes come into force on 30 August.
  • If you are in the process of applying for a Blue Badge at the moment and you need advice, you can find information on our website. We will update our website with more information when it is available.
  • In Scotland and Wales, thanks to our campaigning, eligibility criteria already takes into account some of the barriers autistic people can face getting around. We urge Northern Ireland to follow and replicate these changes. Follow the hyperlinks to find out more about information on Blue Badge eligibility in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.