PEOPLE with hidden disabilities, including dementia, may soon by able to access blue badge parking permits.

The scheme is being extended to include drivers and passengers with conditions such as autism or anxiety disorders. However, eligibility will be decided by local councils.

Blue badge permits allow people to park for free or without a time-limit in otherwise restricted spaces.

This weekend the government confirmed the change will come into force in England on August 30. It will provide an extra £1.7million to help councils deal with the expected increase in applications.

It is reported that about 2.35 million people in the UK have blue badge permits because they have physical mobility difficulties or are registered blind.

Permits will be extended to those with hidden disabilities, including:

People who cannot travel without risk of serious harm to their health and safety or someone else's (such as young children with autism)

People who cannot travel without "very considerable psychological distress"

People who have very considerable difficulty when walking, meaning "both the physical act and experience of walking"

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said he hoped the change would make "a real difference to people's lives".

The government will aim to improve public understanding so people whose disabilities are not visible will be able to use the badges without fear of being challenged unfairly.