Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Questions (466)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

466. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health if he has published the new guidelines for the motorised transport grant; the number of applications for the motorised transport grant that have been processed to date in 2013; the number of applications awaiting processing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10944/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government is very conscious of the needs of people with a disability who require transport supports from the State. 300 people a year received a Motorised Transport Grant. The Government is also conscious of the position of the Ombudsman that the Motorised Transport Grant is illegal in the context of the Equal Status Acts. Having considered the recommendations of the Ombudsman carefully and in particular, the potential cost of implementing the recommended changes, it is clear that extension of the scheme would create serious financial pressure on the health budget in the current climate and would be unsustainable.

Following detailed consideration of the issues involved, the Government has decided that it is no longer possible to allow the scheme to continue as it presently operates and to devise an alternative scheme for meeting people's needs. Applications for Motorised Transport Grant already received by the Health Service Executive up to and including 26th February, 2013 will be processed and if found to be qualified after assessment, the grant will be paid. This decision does not effect the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme operated by the Revenue Commissioners.

A special review group, which will be independently chaired, has been established to seek an alternative method to provide for the needs of people in a manner that does not run counter to the Equal Status Acts. Following the initial phase of the group's work, which will concentrate on issues around Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant, a key concentration of the group will be to look at opportunities for the enhancement of the transport options provided to the relevant persons in need. It is important to note that the decision is in no way intended to save costs and the funding involved (€10.6 million) remains committed to meeting the transport needs of relevant people.

I have referred the specific question regarding numbers of applications for Motorised Transport Grant processed to date in 2013 and awaiting processing to the Health Service Executive, for direct reply to the Deputy.