NEW qualifications for blue badge drivers will come into effect next week.

The Department for Transport has extended the scheme to help people who have 'enduring and substantial' disabilities that are non-visible.

That could include people who have difficulty walking, or those who suffer considerable psychological distress.

Currently more than 8,000 Islanders have blue badges.

Deputy council leader, Cllr Stuart Hutchinson, said: “We hope this will help those deserving Islanders who have missed out on parking assistance under the existing criteria.”

“This is a national change and we are advising those who think they may now qualify to look closely at the new criteria.”

From August 30, applications can be made the www.gov.uk website.

They will then be processed locally by the Isle of Wight Council.

Applications will need to include evidence of a qualifying condition, and the processing will include input from accredited healthcare professionals.

Due to the strict criteria, the council said not all those who apply will be successful.

In advance of the changes, the council has contacted groups including Age UK and Citizen’s Advice and the council’s website will be updated with some frequently asked questions on August 30.

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