News story: Review of Blue Badge fraud as scheme is extended to those with ‘hidden disabilities’

first_imgBlue Badge scheme to be extended to people who have less visible disabilities, making journeys more accessible this change to the scheme is the biggest in nearly 50 years with the extended criteria coming into force on 30 August 2019 review also launched into Blue Badge fraud and ways of reducing misuse The changes will make a huge difference to thousands of autistic people and their families across England – helping them to go out in the way many others take for granted. Just leaving the house is incredibly difficult for many autistic people – and involves detailed preparation. Some autistic people have no concept of the dangers of the road while others are so anxious about plans going wrong, like not being able to find a parking space, that they don’t go out at all. Having a Blue Badge will be life-changing and help many to reduce loneliness and isolation. As a society we don’t do enough for people with hidden disabilities. I hope this change to Blue Badge guidance will make a real difference to people’s lives. It’s unacceptable that people with hidden disabilities still face discrimination when using disabled facilities like parking spaces. Extending the Blue Badge scheme is a watershed moment in ensuring those with hidden disabilities are able to travel with greater ease and live more independent lives. Roads media enquiries Out of hours media enquiries 020 7944 4292 Media enquiries 020 7944 3021 People with hidden disabilities will soon be able to access Blue Badge parking permits, thanks to the rollout of new guidance today (June 15 2019).For drivers or passengers with dementia, anxiety disorders or reduced mobility, the anticipation of travel difficulties such as finding a parking space can build on top of the stress of the journey itself.The new guidance, which represents the biggest change to the scheme since the 1970s, will offer a lifeline to people who often find road travel difficult by providing better access to work and other amenities. It will also help combat loneliness by enabling them to stay connected to family and friends.The expanded scheme coincides with the launch of a new task force to toughen up enforcement and help councils tackle fraudulent use of the badges.Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: A task group will be set up with key organisations to gather ideas and evidence on how to improve the consistency of council enforcement to tackle fraud and misuse.The review will also look at ensuring that there is greater public awareness of which groups are eligible for a badge, when it can and cannot be used, and how to surrender the badge when it is no longer needed, for example if the badge holder dies.While the new criteria will give clear and consistent guidelines on Blue Badge eligibility for the whole of England, not everyone with non-physical disabilities will qualify for a badge. It will be up to the relevant local authority to decide if an applicant meets the eligibility criteria, as is currently the case.Last year, the government set out its plans to improve accessibility across all modes of transport in the Inclusive Transport Strategy which launched on 25 July 2018. The strategy aims to make the UK’s transport network fully inclusive by 2030. Switchboard 0300 330 3000 Those eligible can apply for or renew a Blue Badge online. To help councils with the expected increase in applications, the department has agreed with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to provide £1.7 million in the first year of the programme.The Department for Transport has been working with specialists to expand the eligibility criteria for the badges, which will now include people who cannot walk as part of a journey without considerable psychological distress or the risk of serious harm.The Blue Badge scheme already means people with physical disabilities can park closer to their destination than other drivers, as they are less able to take public transport or walk longer distances.The extension of these badges to those with less visible conditions was announced last summer following an 8 week consultation on widening the eligibility criteria. It is an important part of the government’s drive for greater parity between physical and mental health.Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at the National Autistic Society, said: Making the Blue Badge scheme fairerAt the end of 2018, the Local Government Association estimated that the theft of Blue Badges had risen by 45 percent in 12 months and increased six-fold since 2013.The review will look at ensuring Blue Badges are used correctly and improving public understanding so that those with hidden disabilities can use the badges with confidence.Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said:last_img read more

Virus spread starts to hit Indonesian tourism as foreign arrivals cool

first_img“Why is it increasing? Because there was the Chinese New Year [holiday] and tourist arrivals usually increase [during this period],” she added.Read also: Indonesian tourism suffers estimated US$500 million in losses due to COVID-19: Minister LuhutThe statistics agency data showed that the number of Malaysian tourists fell 10.6 percent year-on-year (yoy) to 206,532 arrivals in January, around 16 percent of the total visits, the highest among other countries of origin.Chinese tourists trailed behind Malaysians at 181,281 arrivals, a slight rise of 1.46 percent yoy, a far cry compared with the 73 percent annual growth recorded in January 2019. The novel coronavirus spread, first reported in China, has started to hit Indonesia’s tourism sector as the country has recorded slower growth in tourist arrivals following bans applied to visitors from China.Statistics Indonesia (BPS) revealed on Monday that tourist arrivals amounted to 1.27 million in January, around 5.85 percent higher than the 1.20 million recorded in the same month in 2019. However, the growth is much lower than the around 9.5 percent increase in arrivals during January 2019 compared with the same period in 2018.“The coronavirus impact can only be significantly seen in the last week of [January]. Some countries saw a decline [in tourist arrivals], like China, Malaysia and Singapore, but in total, they still record an increase,” said BPS deputy for statistics distribution and service Yunita Rusanti in Jakarta. Indonesia has closed its borders for those traveling to and from China in a bid to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like illness. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced on Monday morning the first two COVID-19 positive cases on Indonesia’s soil after a Japanese tourist allegedly spread the virus during a visit to Jakarta. The government has announced a stimulus package worth Rp 10.3 trillion (US$742 million) to support the country’s economic growth. The package will include aid for staple goods programs and housing loans and payment subsidies for the bottom 30 percent of people in the income bracket to maintain consumer spending.Consumer spending contributes more than a half of Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP).The government will also grant Rp 3.3 trillion to 33 regional authorities to compensate for tax revenue losses from the tax exemptions given to hotels and restaurants for the next six months, give Rp 298.5 billion in incentives to airlines and travel agents to attract foreign tourists to Indonesia and another Rp 443.39 billion in discounts for domestic tourists visiting 10 tourist destinations. Topics : COVID-19 has infected more than 88,000 people in some 60 countries and killed around 3,000 people.Indonesia has set a target of welcoming 17 million tourists this year. Last year, a total of 16.1 million tourists visited the country, a far cry from the 2019 target of 18 million.Read also: Govt to pay Rp 72 billion to influencers to boost tourism amid coronavirus outbreakThe BPS also revealed that passengers on international flights increased by 12.13 percent yoy in January to 1.68 million, higher than the 11.27 percent annual growth recorded in the first month of 2019.Meanwhile, the occupancy rate of star-rated hotels stood at 49.17 percent in January, a decline of 2.3 percentage points compared with the occupancy rate in the same month last year of 51.47 percent.The average length of stay at star-rated hotels was 1.88 days in January, 0.17 days shorter compared with the same month in 2019. Indonesia Tourism Intellectuals Association (ICPI) chairman Azril Azahari cast doubts on the fiscal incentives, adding that he would much rather see the government use the funds to improve the current weaknesses in the tourism sector to prepare for 2021’s arrivals and promote quality rather than quantity in tourism.Read also: Let’s not kid ourselves. Indonesia is unlikely to be COVID-19-free. And that’s not our biggest problem.Indonesia still ranks 80th for security and safety, 98th for tourist service infrastructure, 102nd in health and hygiene and 135th for environmental sustainability, ranking lower than Singapore and Malaysia both in the competitiveness index and the four sub-indexes in the 2019 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF).”Under such conditions, no matter what [the government] does to promote tourism through low prices, when the public says no, it’s still a no,” Azril said.He also urged the government to remain transparent on the COVID-19 outbreak developments, citing Saudi Arabia’s decision to include Indonesia among 23 countries in a temporary ban on all umrah pilgrims as an example of how foreign countries are increasingly wary of the virus spread in Indonesia.last_img read more

New display homes open to the public

first_imgThe Atlanta display home.“We’re getting a lot of families moving into Greater Ascot and these homes would suit people who have got a young family and are starting to look for a really good first home or their second home and are starting to spend a little more for those extra features they want in a house,” she said.“They probably have equity or they’ve sold and they’re ready to upgrade.“These are great homes for those that would love a theatre room and want those bigger kitchens and bits and pieces.”The new display homes are packed with features from theatre rooms, to LED lighting in the ceiling, butler’s pantries, double showers, high ceilings and custom-designed walk-in wardrobes. The Meredian display home by Doble Homes.Greater Ascot will eventually be home to about 7000 residents and there are plans for a shopping precinct, sporting fields and access to the Bohle River.St Benedict’s Catholic School, next to the estate, is scheduled to open next year offering kindergarten to Year six.Parkside land sales manager Mark Pyers said many of the homes at Greater Ascot had front verandas which added to the community feel.“The whole idea is to bring the community out on the street,” he said.For more information on Greater Ascot, call Mark Pyers on 0412 465 053. Mark Pyers, the land sales manager at Greater Ascot who are unveiling some new display homes.THREE new display homes at masterplanned community Greater Ascot will be open to the public today for the first time.The homes at The Grange, off Greater Ascot Avenue, will be open today and tomorrow from 10am to 4pm.center_img The Latan display home by Tropical Homes.Two of the homes have been built by Tropical Homes ranging from 184sq m to226sq m with one three-bedroom and one four-bedroom home.The third home called The Meridian was built by Doble Homes and has 188sq m of space over two levels with four bedrooms.The public will also be able to inspect the three existing display homes built by Grady Homes, AP Williams & Co, and Jazz Homes.Parkside Developments marketing manager Fiona Montgomerie said the new display homes catered to families looking to upgrade.More from news01:21Buyer demand explodes in Townsville’s 2019 flood-affected suburbs12 Sep 202001:21‘Giant surge’ in new home sales lifts Townsville property market10 Sep 2020last_img read more