Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD, says the Government’s axing of the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant Scheme is another slap in the face for the most vulnerable.
Deputy O’Dea commented: “This is an appalling cut that again targets the most vulnerable in our society. There are a number of hugely worrying aspects to this announcement. There was no advance warning, no consultation and no engagement with the groups who represent people that stand to lose 20% of an income which is already means tested. I find it incredible that the Government can stand over this.
“The Mobility Allowance offers people that cannot leave their homes unassisted a little respite and a chance to experience some independence. This cut is a slap in the face for the recipients of the allowance.
“Instead of seeking to try and come up with a solution to the issues surrounding the administration of the scheme, the Government has taken the easy option and scraped the allowances altogether. There are a number of serious questions that need to be answered immediately.
“What will happen the money that was set aside for these allowances? Are there plans in place to replace the scheme with a similar one or an alternative? Why was there no consultation with any stakeholders?
“Minister Kathleen Lynch said this morning that this is not a money issue, but it obviously is. Minister Lynch said the Government could not afford to extend the scheme to those over 65 years of age, therefore it is a finance issue. This is another example of penny pinching at the expense of the most disadvantaged. It directly affects and targets those who cannot walk and are housebound, which is indefensible.
“The 5,000 people who stand to lose 20% of their incomes are already struggling to survive. They have had to contend with decreases in their fuel allowances, increases in their utility bills and cuts to their telephone and gas allowances.
“Those in receipt of these allowances now have this hanging around their necks for the next four months with no indication if they will ever receive the allowance again.
“In the last 12 months, there have been cuts to Home Help hours, Personal Assistance Grants, the Domiciliary Care Allowance and the Respite Care Grant. It is blatantly obvious that this Government has cruelly targeted the most vulnerable in our society for cut after cut.
“I would urge the Government and this Labour Party Minister to seriously reconsider axing these allowances and protect those who are most vulnerable.”