Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (212)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

212. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the conditions to qualify for a primary medical certificate under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994 are perceived to be very narrow and are being interpreted very strictly; his plans to widen the application criteria; the cost of the concession in 2017 and 2018; the projected cost in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28096/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT (up to a certain limit) on the purchase of an adapted car for transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, payment of a Fuel Grant, and an exemption from Motor Tax.

To qualify for the Scheme an applicant must be in possession of a Primary Medical Certificate. To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must satisfy one of the following conditions:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The Scheme represents a significant tax expenditure. Between the Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT foregone, and the fuel grant, the scheme cost €65m in each of 2016 and 2017, rising to €70m in 2018. This figure does not include the revenue foregone in respect of the relief from Motor Tax provided to members of the Scheme. As the scheme is demand led, the cost of the concession in 2019 is uncertain at this stage. However, the indications so far are that costs may be higher than the cost in 2018.

I understand and fully sympathise with any person who suffers from a serious physical disability and cannot access the scheme under the current criteria. However, given the scope and scale of the scheme, any possible changes to it can only be made after careful consideration, taking into account the existing and prospective cost of the scheme as well as the availability of other schemes which seek to help with the mobility of disabled persons, and the interaction between each of these schemes.

Accordingly, I have no plans to amend the qualifying medical criteria for the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme at this time.

Finally, I would like to point out that legislation is being brought forward by the Minister for Health to replace the closed Motorised Transport Grant.