LONDON, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of thousands of people in England with hidden disabilities will be offered free car parking under plans announced Sunday.
Transport Minister Jesse Norman would new proposals would see the biggest extension to Britain's "blue badge" scheme since it was introduced in 1970.
The proposals would help remove barriers to travel for people with conditions such as dementia and autism, allowing them better access to work, shops and amenities, said the Department for Transport (DfT). It could help create parity between physical and mental health.
Currently, about 2.4 million disabled people in England have a blue badge, allowing them to park on roads without charge and normally without time limit. Around 75 percent of blue badge holders say they would go out less often if they didn't have one.
Transport Minister 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, said: "We welcome this government proposal which 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 whilst every person on the autism spectrum is different, 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."
Current Blue Badge rules means most autistic people don't qualify for a blue badge.
"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," added Lambert.