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Mobility Allowance Decision

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 6 March 2013

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Questions (224, 225, 250, 251)

Joe McHugh

Question:

224. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health when a replacement scheme will be in place after the motorised transport scheme ceases in four months time. [12240/13]

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Brendan Griffin

Question:

225. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health the way he intends to replace the current mobility allowance and motorised transport grant schemes; if he will guarantee that all current recipients of the grants will be in receipt of the new scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12051/13]

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Michael Creed

Question:

250. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health if he will explain the operation of the motorised transport grant; the number in receipt of this assistance to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11876/13]

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Michael Creed

Question:

251. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the operation of the mobility allowance scheme; the numbers in receipt of this allowance; if he will provide a breakdown on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11877/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 224, 225, 250 and 251 together.

The Motorised Transport Grant was a means tested, Health Service Executive (HSE) payment to enable a person with a severe disability to purchase or adapt a car where that car is essential to retain employment. The maximum grant of €5,020 was payable once in any three year period. More than 300 people received the grant each year at an estimated cost of €1.3 million. The key eligibility criteria for the Motorised Transport Grant included medical criteria, the requirement of a car in order to retain employment and a means test to determine the amount of grant (if any) payable. Eligibility for the Motorised Transport Grant could also be considered in Exceptional Circumstances, other than for employment retention, for a person with a severe disability who lived in very isolated circumstances and where their disability prevented use of public transport.

The Mobility Allowance was a means tested, HSE payment to persons with a severe disability, (who are unable to walk or be in such condition that the exertion required to walk would be dangerous to their health) who are over 16 years and under 66 years, to enable them to benefit from a change in surroundings. The Mobility Allowance is paid monthly and the current rate is €208.50 per month. There are in excess of 4,700 recipients of mobility allowance at an annual cost of over €9 million.

I have provided the Deputies with the figures for the numbers of applicants in receipt of the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant for the last full year for which those figures are available, i.e. 2011, in the table below.

Conscious of the position of the Ombudsman that the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant schemes are illegal in the context of the Equal Status Acts and following detailed consideration of the issues involved with Cabinet colleagues, the Government decided on 26th February that it was no longer possible to allow the two schemes to continue as they operated and to devise an alternate solution for meeting the priority transport needs of people with a disability. Although the Government's decision ends both schemes to new applicants with immediate effect, the payment of Mobility Allowance to those currently in receipt of it, will continue for another four months.

The Government remains very conscious that there are many people who cannot access public transport and who rely on supports such as the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant for their transport needs. Unfortunately it is not possible to expand these schemes to comply with the Equality Status Acts, without incurring very significant additional costs, which would result in a requirement for severe service cut back in current disability, older people and mental health services. It is important to note that the decision is in no way intended to save costs and the funding involved in the two schemes (€10.6 million) remains committed to meeting the priority transport needs of people with a disability.

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. As part of the review, the HSE will examine the circumstances of all those currently benefiting from the schemes to ensure the identified solutions will encompass their priority mobility needs. In addition, the Minister for Health has instructed the HSE to contact each individual in receipt of the payments to notify them of this decision.

County / HSE Region

Applicants in receipt of Mobility Allowance in 2011

Applicants in receipt of Motorised Transport Grant in 2011

Dublin South

99

1

Dublin South City

75

1

Dublin South East

68

0

Dublin South West / Kildare West Wicklow

394

5

Dublin West

207

1

Midlands

152

12

Wicklow

114

1

Meath

102

6

Louth

110

3

Cavan / Monaghan

80

3

Dublin North Central

185

1

Dublin North West

299

0

Dublin North

255

6

Carlow / Kilkenny

251

1

Cork North

109

0

Cork North Lee

213

3

Cork South Lee

171

0

Cork West

69

1

Kerry

173

1

Tipperary South Riding

116

14

Waterford

128

4

Wexford

191

7

Donegal

113

83

Galway

367

39

Mayo

160

15

Mid West

371

19

Roscommon

45

13

Sligo / Leitrim / West Cavan

85

38

TOTALS

4,702

278

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