Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has pledged to make roads “accessible for all” as he marked the 50th anniversary of a law introducing blue badges.
He described the parking permits, used by more than 2.8 million people across the UK, as “a lifeline”.
On May 29 1970, the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act came into force, stating that local authorities should produce badges for vehicles used by disabled people.
It makes transport easier to access for those who really need itGrant Shapps
The first blue badges were issued the following year, and the scheme has developed over the past five decades.
In 1975 the eligibility criteria was extended to include blind people, while badge holders were allowed to park on yellow lines.
Children under the age of two who needed to be accompanied by bulky medical equipment were able to obtain a permit from 2007.
Last year the eligibility criteria was extended in England to include people with non-visible disabilities such as Parkinson’s, dementia and epilepsy.
Depending on the location, blue badges often enable holders to park free of charge in pay-and-display bays and for up to three hours on single and double yellow lines, while in London they exempt holders from the Congestion Charge.
This helps people access shops and services by allowing them to park closer to their destinations.
Mr Shapps said: “The blue badge scheme is a lifeline for so many disabled people. It makes transport easier to access for those who really need it.
“Having extended the blue badge scheme for hidden disabilities last year, I am determined that this Government will do even more to ensure the UK’s roads are safe and accessible for all.”
Accessibility minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “A lot has been achieved in the last 50 years to help disabled people, but we must continue to do more.
“This scheme, along with our inclusive transport strategy, is at the heart of this Government’s transport agenda.”
Department for Transport figures published in December showed prosecutions of motorists in England misusing blue badges reached 1,432 in the year ending on March 31, up nearly a fifth compared with the previous 12 months.
Nearly all cases involved someone using another person’s badge.