Written answers

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Department of Finance

Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal South West, Sinn Fein)
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195. To ask the Minister for Finance his plans to amend the current qualifying criteria for access to the disabled drivers and disabled passengers scheme for persons with disabilities; if he has given consideration to provide for additionality to the scheme to allow for applicants with other conditions to access it; his views on the huge benefit that access to the scheme would provide to those currently excluded from it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40053/15]

Photo of Michael NoonanMichael Noonan (Minister, Department of Finance; Limerick City, Fine Gael)
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As the Deputy is aware, the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT (up to a certain limit) on the purchase of an adapted car for transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, a fuel grant, and an exemption from Motor Tax.

To qualify for the Scheme, an applicant must have a permanent and severe physical disability within the terms of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations (S.I. 353 of 1994) and satisfy one of the six medical criteria outlined in the Regulations. These are that a person must:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The Scheme represents a significant tax expenditure. Between the Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT foregone, and the repayment of excise on fuel used by members of the Scheme, the Scheme represented a cost of €48.6 million to the Exchequer in 2014. This figure does not include the revenue foregone to the Local Government Fund in the respect of the relief from Motor Tax provided to members of the Scheme. In terms of the numbers of claims to the Scheme in 2014, there were 4,936 claims for Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT relief, and 12,338 claims in respect of the repayment of excise on the fuel element of the Scheme.

I recognise the important role that the Scheme plays in expanding the mobility of citizens with disabilities, and I have managed to maintain the relief at current levels throughout the crisis despite the requirement for significant fiscal consolidation. 

I frequently receive correspondence from applicants who do not meet the qualifying criteria but feel that they could benefit from the Scheme. While I am sympathetic to those who do not qualify for Scheme, I cannot at this time, in the still challenging fiscal environment and given the scale and scope of the Scheme, expand the medical criteria beyond the six currently provided for in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994.

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