Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (332)

David Cullinane


332. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health his plans to open the disability car scheme to new claimants; his further plans to offer disability cars that are more than five years old and have been replaced to persons not on the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21863/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Deputy has clarified that his question relates specifically to the Motorised Transport Grant scheme and whether the scheme is still open to persons who would have availed of the scheme, prior to its closure in 2013.

The Motorised Transport Grant scheme operated as a means-tested grant to assist persons with severe disabilities with the purchase or adaptation of a car, where that car was essential to retain employment.  The maximum grant payable once to an individual in any three year period, was €5,020.  Previous recipients of the grant who wished to be considered for a further grant, had to re-apply for consideration.  The grant did not roll-over on an automatic basis.

Prior to the closure of the Motorised Transport Grant scheme in February 2013, approximately 300 persons per annum qualified for a grant, at an estimated cost of €1.3 million per annum.  There are no plans for its replacement.

With regard to the proposals for a new Health (Transport Support) Bill, the Deputy may be aware that my colleague, the Minister for Health and I, brought a Memorandum to Government 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 that 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.