I welcome the Government's proposal for a more inclusive Blue Badge scheme

For people with disabilities a Blue Badge can be the key to a more independent life. Allowing them to visit loved ones, visit the shops along the High Street or simply enjoy the seafront, without having to tackle a long journey between their car and their final destination. Which for some can be a near impossible challenge.

However, for many people obtaining a Blue Badge can be a task in itself. This can be because their disability may be a hidden one, which may not be obvious to an on-looker but can have a serious impact of their ability to live a free and independent life. This can leave many of these disabled people reliant on the support of their friends and families, or some cases remain isolated from the rest of the community.

This is why in January of this year the Department for Transport began a consultation on extending the criteria for Blue Badge schemes to include hidden and non-physical disabilities. I am pleased to say that 89% of respondents, which included Local Authorities, Disability Groups, and individuals, were in favour of extending the criteria to include non-physical disabilities.

Therefore, this Autumn the Government will layout plans to extend the criteria of Blue Badge schemes to include those who have conditions which mean they are unable to undertake a journey without it causing considerable difficulty walking, considerable psychological distress, without risking the health and safety of that person or any other person.

The plans will also replace the independent mobility assessors with eligibility assessors which will enable a broader range of healthcare professionals with expertise on non-physical disabilities.

I am sure that this will make a huge difference in the lives of many people in Southend-on-Sea who are suffering with hidden or non-physical disabilities. It will allow those people to come out of isolation, and live the independent lives they all deserve.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns that I may be of assistance with as your local Member of Parliament please do not hesitate to email me at james@jamesduddridge.com or call my office on 01702 616135.