Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Ceisteanna (407)

Seán Canney


407. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will consider extending free travel to include children who are being cared for by a carer receiving the carer’s allowance in view of the fact that at present the carers receive free travel but the children do not; if her attention has been drawn to the burden this places on low-income families in which children have medical conditions and often have multiple medical appointments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31512/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The 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 over 80 private transport operators. There are currently approx. 980,000 customers with direct eligibility. The 2020 funding allocation for the free travel scheme is €95 million.

While my Department does not provide a free travel pass to children aged under 16, for whom a person is receiving carer's allowance, my Department does provide additional support in the form of the domiciliary care allowance. The 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.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme (SWA) my Department 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 person'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.

Children aged 16 or over may apply for disability allowance. Disability allowance is a weekly allowance paid to people with a disability and a person can continue to attend school while receiving the payment. A child in receipt of disability allowance is entitled to a free travel pass in his/her own right.

Any decision to extend the free travel scheme to all children, for whom a person is receiving carer's allowance, would require additional funding for the free travel scheme and would have to be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.