Disabled parking road sign in English and Welsh

The changes the Government promised to make to the Blue Badge Scheme last summer come into force today. The expanded eligibility criteria will mean that many more autistic people will qualify for a Blue Badge.

The old rules were too focused on people’s physical ability to walk, and changes to Government guidance in 2014 meant that autistic people found it too hard to get a Blue Badge. For many people, this meant they weren’t able to go out and about and could become socially isolated.

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 exactly 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.

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.

If you think you could be eligible for a Blue Badge, check online with the Gov eligibility checker.

Reaction

Tim Nicholls Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the National Autistic Society said: “We are delighted to see the new Blue Badge rules come into force. This will be a huge relief for thousands of autistic people and their families in England, many of whom weren’t able to get this vital support under the old rules and 2014 guidance, which were too focused on people’s physical ability to walk.

“Just leaving the house is incredibly hard for many autistic children and adults. Even a quick trip to the shops or park can involve detailed preparation. Some people have no concept of the dangers of the road; others are so anxious about things going wrong, like missing an appointment or the car park being full, that they can’t contemplate going out at all. These barriers all increase autistic people’s isolation.

“A Blue Badge can be life changing. But, as ever, the positive impact of the changes will depend on how the new guidance is implemented on the ground. It’s absolutely essential that council officials making decisions about Blue Badges understand autism and the challenges autistic people can face getting out and about.”

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.