Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue has criticised the Disabled Drivers & Passengers Scheme, describing it as unfit for purpose and has called on the Government to establish a replacement scheme for the Mobility Allowance & Motorised Transport Grant.
The Disabled Drivers & Passengers Scheme allows drivers and passengers to avail of tax relief which is then used to adapt their vehicle. However, Deputy McConalogue says the current criteria is too rigid as some people with serious degenerative conditions are failing to qualify for the scheme.
He explained, “In order to meet the criteria for the Disabled Drivers & Passengers Scheme a person must be without a limb, or without the use of a limb and these terms are applied extremely rigidly when the application is being considered. I have seen cases where an applicant is primarily wheelchair bound, but failed to qualify for the tax relief because they can walk very short distances with the aid of a walking stick.
“There needs to be more flexibility and compassion in the assessment of these cases. The removal of Mobility Allowance & Motorised Transport Grant has left a huge gap in provision for people who need to adapt their cars and many of those who would have qualified for that grant are now left in limbo.
“The previous Government axed the Mobility Allowance & Motorised Transport Grant but claimed that it would announce a replacement scheme. More than four years later and we’re still waiting.
“As a result of the scheme being cancelled, people have been forced to apply for the Disabled Drivers & Passengers Scheme, however many of them are failing to meet the strict criteria. This is extremely frustrating – some of the most vulnerable people in our society currently have no safety net to help them improve the mobility issues they face in their daily lives. The Government cannot continue to ignore this issue.
“I am calling on the Minister of Health to announce a replacement for the Motorised Transport Grant & Mobility Allowance and separately, for the Minister for Finance to review the criteria for the Disabled Drivers & Passengers Scheme”.