I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 and 11 together.
The disabled drivers and disabled passengers (tax concessions) scheme provides relief from VAT and vehicle registration tax, 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 or have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.
The scheme represents a significant tax expenditure, which is justified in terms of responding to the needs of applicants with this level of challenge in their daily lives. Between the VRT and VAT foregone and the fuel grant, the scheme cost €65 million in 2016 and 2017, rising to €70 million in 2018. These figures do not include the revenue foregone in respect of the relief from motor tax provided to members of the scheme.
I understand and fully sympathise with any person who suffers from a serious physical disability and who 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 that seek to help with the mobility of disabled persons and the interaction between each of these schemes. Therefore, at this point, I have no plans to amend the qualifying medical criteria further but if either Deputy believes that particular areas merit revision, I would be interested in hearing their views on same.