Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (89, 108, 110, 611)

John Browne

Question:

89. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Health his plans to restore the mobility allowance after June; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30026/13]

View answer

Dessie Ellis

Question:

108. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Health his plans for the proposed replacement of the mobility allowance and the motorised transport grant; the way recipients will be affected when current payments are scheduled to cease; if the review group has reported and the recommendations of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30399/13]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

110. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health if he will provide an update regarding the mobility allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30433/13]

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Robert Troy

Question:

611. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health the progress made on an alternative scheme to the mobility allowance scheme and motorised transport grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30700/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 89, 108, 110 and 611 together.

The Government decided on 12th June last, to extend payments of Mobility Allowance to those currently in receipt for a further number of months, pending establishment of new statutory provisions to support the mobility needs of people with severe disabilities. The Government is very conscious of the needs of people with a disability who have relied on individual payments of Mobility Allowance to support their independence and will take all of this into consideration when making a decision on future arrangements.

Following detailed consideration of the Interim Report of the Review Group, which was established to seek an alternative method to provide for the priority transport needs of people in a manner that does not run counter to the Equal Status Acts, the Government has decided that new statutory provisions will be established to provide individual payments to people with severe disabilities who require additional income to address the costs of their mobility needs. The Government has agreed that an inter-departmental group, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach, will now be asked to develop detailed proposals for the operation of the new scheme or schemes, including eligibility criteria and administrative arrangements, and should report back to Government by October.

The Final Report of the Review Group, which will include consideration of the wider issue of general transport for people with disabilities, will be submitted to Government in the coming weeks.

The Government has agreed that payments should temporarily continue to be made by the HSE to those persons currently in receipt of the Mobility Allowance for a further number of months, pending the commencement of new statutory provisions, on the basis that this would prevent hardship, and, on an interim basis, alleviate stress, anxiety and uncertainty among a vulnerable group in society.

The existing position regarding the Motorised Transport Grant remains as before, i.e. the scheme remains closed. The inter-departmental group will examine this issue as part of its considerations of how future statutory arrangements should operate.