People suffering from dementia, autism and mental health conditions will be handed the permits under the biggest overhaul of the system in 40 years.

Ministers hope it will make it easier for those with less visible problems to travel to work, go shopping and enjoy a social life.

It is part of the government’s drive to even out rules for the treatment of those with physical and mental illness.

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “Blue badges are a lifeline for disabled people, giving them the freedom and confidence to get to work and visit friends independently.

“The changes we are announcing will ensure that this scheme is extended equally to people with hidden disabilities so that they can enjoy the freedoms that many of us take for granted.”

About 2.4million disabled people in England have a Blue Badge but councils interpret the rules on non-physical disabilities differently. The changes – which will be announced today following an eight-week consultation — will give “clear and consistent” guidelines and stop a potential boom of bogus claims for badges.

Under the new rules, the badge will be extended to people who cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person, such as young kids with autism.

Others who will become eligible include those who cannot make a journey without suffering considerable psychological distress or have considerable difficulty walking.

Minister for disabled people Sarah Newton said: “It is absolutely right that disabled people are able to go about their daily life without worrying how they will get from one place to another.

“We’re taking an important step forward in ensuring people with hidden disabilities get the support they need to live independently.”

National Autistic Society boss Jane Harris said the move would make a massive difference to the lives of many people.

She said: “Just leaving the house is a challenge for many…involving overwhelming anxiety about plans going wrong.

“The possibility of not being able to find a parking space near where you’re going can mean you can’t contemplate leaving the house at all. A Blue Badge will be a lifeline and prevent a life of isolation.”

Sally Copley, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This will be an absolute game changer for people living with dementia.

It will bring great benefit to many of the 850,000 people currently living with dementia in the UK.”

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