People with hidden disabilities could soon be entitled to blue badge parking permits under new government plans.
The Department for Transport (DfT) proposals are the biggest change to the scheme since it began in 1970 and are being introduced in order to help create more equality in the treatment of physical and mental health.
The new policy is designed to provide "clear and consistent" guidelines. Currently councils have different interpretations of existing rules with only some recognising hidden disabilities such as dementia and autism.
Around 2.4 million disabled people in England have a blue badge which enables them to park free of charge in pay and display bays and for up to three hours on yellow lines. In London, the permit also exempts holders from having to pay the congestion charge.
Around three out of four blue badge holders say they would go out less often if they did not have one, according to the DfT.
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 and said amending parking permit access could be "a lifeline" for many autistic people, who often do not qualify under current regulations.