Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (640)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

640. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health the steps being taken to replace the travel schemes (details supplied) that were ceased in 2013 due to incompatibility with the Equal Status Acts; if an alternative scheme is available; the status of the interdepartmental group that was asked to develop detailed proposals, including eligibility criteria and administrative arrangements; the number of times the group met; when the last meeting took place; the outcome of the group; the findings of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12914/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Deputy will be familiar with the background to the closure of both the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant schemes in February 2013.

The Inter-Departmental Group referred to by the Deputy, was established on foot of a Government Decision in June 2013 and was chaired by the Department of An Taoiseach. The Group met eight times from June 2013 to September 2013. The Group set out initial proposals for consideration by Government for a statutory transport support payment scheme as a replacement for the discontinued Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant Schemes. In November 2013, the Government decided that the Minister for Health, in consultation with other relevant Ministers would progress the detailed preparatory work required for a new travel subsidy scheme and associated statutory provisions.

My colleague, the Minister for Health and I brought a Memorandum to Government in May 2018 on proposals for a new Transport Support Payment Scheme. Following consideration of the matter, it was decided to withdraw the Memorandum from the Cabinet Agenda at the time. I intend to revert to Government in due course with revised proposals to reflect the discussions at that Cabinet meeting and further discussions between myself and Minister Harris on the best way to progress the Transport Scheme.

It is important to note that the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers scheme operated by the Revenue Commissioners, remains in place. This scheme provides VRT and VAT relief, an exemption from road tax and a fuel grant to drivers and passengers with a disability, who qualify under the relevant criteria set out in governing regulations made by the Minister for Finance. Specifically adapted vehicles driven by persons with a disability are also exempt from payment of tolls on national roads and toll bridges. Transport Infrastructure Ireland has responsibility for this particular scheme.

There are improvements in access to a range of transport support schemes available to persons with disabilities in the State and on-going work is being carried out by Government Departments, agencies and transport providers to further improve access to public transport services. Under the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has responsibility for the continued development of accessibility and availability of public transport for people with a disability.