'Postcode lottery' for blue badge applicants with non-visible disabilities

Video report by Katie Cole

A North East mother, whose son has autism, is calling for a better understanding of hidden disabilities.

It comes after figures suggest many applications for a blue badge permit are being refused by councils.

In 2019 the scheme was extended to include people with non visible disabilities like autism and brain injuries. However, new data suggests that people with physical impairments are much more likely to be approved for a disability badge, with claims that it is a 'postcode lottery'.

Lyndsey Baxter from Hebburn has a badge for her son Oscar, but says the system is too complex for some families to navigate.

An investigation by the BBC's shared data founds 80% of UK councils had higher rates of approval for people with physical impairments, compared to those who have hidden disabilities.

Durham County Council is highlighted as one of the local authorities with the starkest differences. 


of UK council have higher approval rate for people with physical disabilities


of Blue Badge applications in 2019 were approved for people with physical disabilities.


of applications from people with hidden disabilities were approved in 2019

In response to the figures, Durham County Council told ITV Tyne Tees that the criteria to be approved requires sufficient evidence.

The hidden disability criteria were introduced with very specific conditions as to the evidence required. As a result, it is reasonable to assume an influx of applications were submitted by those who had not previously been able to access the blue badge application service and believed they could qualify without knowing sufficient evidence is required by the Department for Transport.

Durham County Council Spokesperson

The government says it will review the impact of the new criteria.