Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Ceisteanna (604)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

604. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to extend the travel pass scheme in particular to children who are wheelchair bound. [4984/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The current free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by almost 80 private transport operators. There are currently approximately 934,000 customers with direct eligibility to free travel with an annual allocation of €95 million. The scheme is available to all people aged over 66 living permanently in the State. To qualify for the scheme, applicants who are under age 66 must be in receipt of a qualifying payment. These are invalidity pension, blind pension, disability allowance, carer’s allowance or an equivalent social security payment from a country covered by EC Regulations or one with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement.

Any decision to extend the free travel scheme to any other cohort of people would require additional funding for the free travel scheme and would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.

Domiciliary care allowance is a monthly payment of €309.50 to the carer of a child with a disability. The allowance may be used for the additional costs involved in caring for the child and this may include additional transport costs. On most transport services children under sixteen years of age are charged fares at special concessionary child rates.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme (SWA) the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection may award a travel supplement in any case where the circumstances of the case so warrant. The supplement is intended to assist with ongoing or recurring travel costs that cannot be met from the client’s own resources and are deemed to be necessary. Every decision is based on consideration of the circumstances of the case, taking account of the nature and extent of the need and of the resources of the person concerned.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.