“Changes to the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme, as a result of a Fianna Fáil initiative, will enable more special schools and service providers to avail of relief from VAT and VRT when purchasing adapted vehicles,” according to the Party’s Finance Spokesperson, Michael McGrath TD.

“There are many special schools caring for children with disabilities that currently cannot avail of the scheme because the qualifying conditions are overly restrictive.

“As well as being available to individuals who hold a Primary Medical Certificate, the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme enables certain charitable organisations who care for, and transport, people with severe and permanent disabilities to obtain a relief from VAT and VRT when purchasing specially adapted vehicles.

“At present, only organisations where a majority of service users or pupils qualify for the Primary Medical Certificate can avail of the scheme.
“For example, if a special school caters for 20 children with disabilities, they would only be eligible if more than ten of the children were severely and permanently disabled. This criterion severely limits the number of schools that could avail of this valuable exemption. The same applies to a range of service providers catering for the needs of persons with a disability.

“Schools that care for children with severe and permanent disabilities offer vital supports to their pupils and their families. My colleague, Thomas Byrne, our Education Spokesperson, brought this issue to my attention, and we proposed an amendment to the Finance Bill. Following a positive reaction at the Committee, the Minister for Finance has now agreed to make the relevant changes to the Statutory Instrument.

“The key change being made is that the requirement for a majority of the pupils or service users to hold a Primary Medical Certificate is being replaced with a requirement that only one pupil or service user holds such a Certificate.

“This potentially opens up this valuable scheme to a significant number of special schools and service providers. The scheme will apply to organisations whose purpose is to provide services to persons with disabilities.

“The Minster has provided me with a proposed amendment to the relevant Statutory Instrument. This will now be subject to legal scrutiny by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel and will be progressed in the normal way,” concluded McGrath.