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Departmental Schemes

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 25 January 2022

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Questions (228, 231, 232, 233, 235, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240)

Emer Higgins

Question:

228. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to delays in the administration of the disabled drivers and disabled passengers scheme; the appropriateness of such delays; the actions that are being taken to address these delays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2904/22]

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Emer Higgins

Question:

231. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Finance the rationale underpinning the suspension of the disabled drivers and disabled passengers' scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2905/22]

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Emer Higgins

Question:

232. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Finance when the new members of the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeals will be appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2909/22]

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Emer Higgins

Question:

233. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Finance the current status of the proposed review of the primary medical certificate system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2910/22]

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Pauline Tully

Question:

235. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who have applied for the disabled drivers medical scheme since 19 June 2020 to date; the number of persons who have been approved for the scheme since 19 June 2020 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2945/22]

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Pauline Tully

Question:

236. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who have applied for the disabled drivers' medical scheme since 1 January 2021 to date; the number of persons who have been approved for the scheme since 1 January 2021 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2946/22]

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Pauline Tully

Question:

237. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Finance the status of the comprehensive review of the disabled drivers' and disabled passengers scheme; when the review will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2950/22]

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Pauline Tully

Question:

238. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Finance if he will publish the minutes of the meetings he has had with the Disabled Drivers' Medical Board of Appeal in 2020 and 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2951/22]

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Pauline Tully

Question:

239. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Finance if he will publish correspondence to and from the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal for the years 2020 and 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2952/22]

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Pauline Tully

Question:

240. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Finance the number of certificates applied for under the disabled drivers and disabled passengers scheme; the number of certificates awarded in each of the years 2016 to 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2953/22]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 228, 231, 232, 233, 235, 236, 237, 238, 239 and 240 together.

The Disabled Drivers & Disabled Passengers Scheme (DDS) provides relief from VRT and VAT on the purchase and use of an adapted car, as well as an exemption from motor tax and an annual fuel grant.

The Scheme is open to severely and permanently disabled persons who also meet one of six specified medical criteria, as a driver or as a passenger and also to certain organisations. In order to qualify for relief, the applicant must hold a Primary Medical Certificate issued by the relevant Senior Area Medical Officer (SAMO) or a Board Medical Certificate issued by the Disabled Driver Medical Board of Appeal. Certain other qualifying criteria apply in relation to the vehicle, in particular that it must be specially constructed or adapted for use by the applicant. In the event that a PMC is not granted by the relevant Senior Area Medical Officer an appeal may be made to the independent Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal (DDMBA) who operate out of the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.

The members of the DDMBA wrote to me recently tendering their resignation from the Board. My officials are engaged with the Department of Health and the Public Appointments Service in terms of seeking expressions of interest from medical practitioners to participate in the Board. It is hoped to move this process along as quickly as possible so that appeals can recommence as soon as possible.

Requests for appeal hearings can be sent to the DDMBA secretary based in the National Rehabilitation Hospital. New appeal hearing dates will be issued once the new Board is in place. Assessments for the primary medical certificate, by the HSE, are continuing to take place. The number of applications for a Primary Medical Certificate and the number of those that were successful are a matter for the Department of Health.

As the Deputy will appreciate this Scheme confers substantial benefits to eligible persons and changing the medical criteria to more general mobility-focused criteria, would raise the already considerable cost of the Scheme in terms of tax foregone to the Exchequer. Any increase in the cost of the Scheme would require a concomitant increase in tax, reduction in public expenditure, or increase in the Exchequer deficit.

I gave a commitment to the House that a comprehensive review of the scheme, to include a broader review of mobility supports for persons with disabilities, would be undertaken. In this context I have been working with my Government colleague, Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. We are both agreed that the review should be brought within a wider review under the auspices of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, to examine transport supports encompassing all Government funded transport and mobility schemes for people with disabilities. Its work was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This the most appropriate forum to meet mutual objectives in respect of transport solutions/mobility supports for those with a disability.

It is anticipated that the NDIS working group will be meeting shortly. My officials will continue to work closely with officials from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, to progress this review, and on foot of that will bring forward proposals for consideration.

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