I propose to answer Questions Nos. 191 and 195 together.
Area Development Management Limited (ADM) has been engaged to administer and manage the implementation of the taxi hardship payments scheme in accordance with the terms of the relevant Government decision.
The cost of administering the taxi hardship payments scheme, based on a nine-month implementation period, was estimated at some €536,000 in August 2003. This cost estimate is made up of set-up costs of some €92,000, ongoing salary costs in the region of €295,000, with the balance relating to administration costs. ADM operates as a not for profit organisation and has to directly recoup all the costs it incurs in administering schemes or projects on behalf of the State. These costs will be met over and above any hardship payments made under the taxi hardship payments scheme itself.
I understand from ADM that a total of 749 applications under the taxi hardship payments scheme had been received by them as of Friday, 23 January 2004. Hardship payments totalling €1,990,000 have been made to 166 qualifying persons under the scheme to date. The taxi hardship panel recommended that a range of specific payments might be made to eligible and qualifying taxi licence holders, ranging from €3,000 to €15,000 depending on the category of hardship involved. The average payment to date is €12,042. Of the 583 outstanding applications, additional information has been requested from the applicants in 497 cases and a further 86 applications where the information is complete have yet to be processed. The time taken to process applications and to make payments depends on the completeness of the information and supporting documentation in each individual application.
The taxi hardship payments scheme is based on the recommendations and parameters set out in the Taxi Hardship Panel report, as approved by Government. However, the scheme does allow individuals who find, due to their particular circumstances, that they fall outside the requirements for a particular category of hardship, to complete the application form and submit their details, including information regarding the extenuating circumstances involved in relation to their hardship, for consideration by ADM. I have no proposals to depart from the terms of the Taxi Hardship Panel report or the Government's decision in relation to it.