The government has announced proposals to extend the privileges of ‘Blue Badge’ parking permits to those with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as autism and dementia.

Around 2.4 million people in England already hold the badges, which were introduced in 1970, allowing them to park on roads without charge and often without time limits. According to the government, around three-quarters of people who have the badges say that it means they go out more than they otherwise would.

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Transport minister Jesse Norman said: ‘Blue badges give people with disabilities the freedom to get jobs, see friends or go to the shops with as much ease as possible.

‘We want to try to extend this to people with invisible disabilities, so they can enjoy the freedom to get out and about, where and when they want.’

Sarah Lambert, head of policy at the National Autistic Society, welcomed the proposal, saying: ‘Current Blue Badge rules mean that all too often, autistic people don’t qualify. The National Autistic Society has raised this issue with government over recent years and we are pleased to see they have listened to the concerns of autistic people and their families.

‘This government proposal could mean that many more autistic people will qualify for a Blue Badge, which can be a lifeline.

‘There are an estimated 700,000 autistic people in the UK and for some, not being able to park in a predictable place close to a destination can cause a great deal of anxiety and put their safety at risk. Some autistic people can experience too much information from the environment around them on public transport, while other autistic people might not be aware of dangers on the road.’