Carthy urges government to expand Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme
Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy has said that he intends to continue to challenge the government on their lack of action in relation to the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme.
Applicants to the scheme, which provides a range of tax reliefs in relation to the purchase of special constructed or adapted vehicles for drivers and passengers with a disability, have been unable to have appeals heard for over a year, following mass resignations of the doctors which staff the Medical Board of Appeal.
The scheme itself has been described as “overly restrictive”. Deputy Carthy recently questioned Junior Minister Anne Rabbitte on the scheme in the Dáil.
Teachta Carthy said:
“The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme is an absolutely critical scheme for those with various mobility issues, and completely necessary if we are to provide disabled people their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to live fully independent lives.
“However, for many years this scheme has been identified as being overly prescriptive.
“In June 2020 the Supreme Court case adjudicated against the government for the narrow interpretation of the legislation.
“But, rather than making the necessary reforms to the scheme, the government instead introduced what amounted to a technical amendment to the legislation to re-enforce those excessively restrictive criteria.
“While the government committed to a review last year, the resignation of the entire board of appeal in October 2021 points to a systemic failure on the part of the government to approach this issue with the required compassion. Those who need to avail of the scheme are essentially told that they are not disabled enough.
“The lack of urgency on this issue is evident at every level of government.
“When I questioned Minister of State for Disabilities, Anne Rabbitte, who has responsibility for chairing the Transport Working Group, under whom this review falls, she suggested that questions in relation to the funding of the scheme should be directed to the Minister for Finance.
“This is particularly concerning as over 670 appeals are outstanding since the resignation of the board and government allocated no additional allocation to the scheme in the recent budget. There is simply no evidence that the government intend to resolve this debacle or reforming the excessively rigid criteria.
“The Department of Finance will be before the Public Accounts Committee in the coming weeks and I intend to pursue that department on their proposals to resolve this issue.”