Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (601)

Dan Neville

Question:

715 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the changes with regard to payment of mobility allowance on the application for a motorised transport grant. [1594/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

The national health board review group on Department of Health and Children disability allowances and grant schemes was established to review certain Department of Health and Children disability allowances and grant schemes. The review group finalised draft circulars, which were issued by the Department of Health and Children to all health boards in July 2002, to standardise the procedures used at all health board levels for the operation of the various allowances and grants. The circular confirms the purpose of mobility allowance as an allowance that: "provides financial support to eligible people who are unable to walk or use public transport and is intended to enable them to benefit from a change in surroundings — for example, by financing the occasional taxi journey."

The circular on the motorised transport grant states:

a Health Board may pay a grant towards the purchase of a car and/or adaptions to a car being purchased by a person with a severe disability who is 17 years or older and up to 65 years of age, where such a car is essential for him/her to obtain or retain employment. Self-employed persons who satisfy the criteria of eligibility may also be considered (subject to the above age limits).

Therefore the two schemes are mutually exclusive.

Furthermore, the 1968 circular on motorised transport grant stated: "the making of grants should be on the condition that the health authority will not be called upon at any future date to contribute towards the running expenses."

The revised motorised grant circulars reiterate this position by confirming that:

The payment of a motorised transport grant is subject to the condition that the health board will not be called upon at any future date to contribute towards the running costs of the vehicle. In this context, a mobility allowance recipient cannot qualify for the motorised transport grant. Similarly, a person who has received the motorised transport grant in the previous three years cannot qualify for mobility allowance. Where a mobility allowance recipient wishes to avail of a motorised transport grant, mobility allowance should cease from the date of payment of the motorised transport grant."