Tuesday, 2 November 2021
Department of Finance
256. To ask the Minister for Finance the status of the comprehensive review into the disabled drivers and disabled passengers scheme; when proposals will be presented and considered by his Department; and when reforms to the criteria will take place. [52159/21]
257. To ask the Minister for Finance if any change has taken place over the past 12 months in relation to the disabled drivers and passengers scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52171/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 256 and 257 together.
The Disabled Drivers & Disabled Passengers Scheme provides relief from Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT on the purchase and use of an adapted car, as well as an exemption from motor tax and an annual fuel grant.
The Scheme is open to severely and permanently disabled persons as a driver or as a passenger and also to certain charitable organisations. In order to qualify for relief, the applicant must hold a Primary Medical Certificate issued by the relevant Senior Area Medical Officer (SAMO) or a Board Medical Certificate issued by the Disabled Driver Medical Board of Appeal. Certain other qualifying criteria apply in relation to the vehicle, in particular that it must be specially constructed or adapted for use by the applicant.
To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate an applicant must be permanently and severely disabled, and satisfy at least one of the following medical criteria, in order to obtain a Primary Medical Certificate:
- 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 current medical criteria medical criteria were included in the Finance Act 2020, by way of amendment to Section 92 of the Finance Act 1989. This amendment arises from legal advice in light of the June 2020 Supreme Court judgement that the medical criteria in secondary legislation was not deemed to be invalid, nevertheless it was found to be inconsistent with the mandate provided in Section 92 of the Finance Act 1989 (primary legislation).
While I am very aware of the importance of this scheme to those who benefit from it, I am also aware of the disquiet expressed by members of this house and others in respect of the difficulties around access to the scheme. With this in mind I provided an undertaking to review the scheme, including a broader review of mobility supports for persons with a disability. My officials have been carrying out preliminary work, including an examination of the main issues which will frame the scope of the review and engaging with other Departments and agencies.
Separately, I have reached out to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, in the context of a review that was commenced in March 2020 under the auspices of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, to examine transport supports encompassing all Government funded transport and mobility schemes for people with disabilities. Its work was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister O’Gorman has confirmed that he has asked his officials to reconvene the working group established to carry out that review at the earliest opportunity and we are both agreed that this is the most appropriate forum for the review. With this in mind, my officials will work closely with officials from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to progress this review, and on foot of that will bring forward proposals for consideration.