The government has decided that the detailed preparatory work required for a new travel subsidy scheme and associated statutory provisions will be progressed as a priority by the Minister for Health in consultation with other relevant Ministers.
Payments will continue to be made by the Health Service Executive to current recipients of the Mobility Allowance for a further period pending decisions on the new statutory scheme.
The government is aware of the needs of people with a disability relying on individual payments which contribute to choice and independence and will take all of this into consideration when making a decision on the detail of the new scheme.
Conscious of the reports of the Ombudsman regarding the legal status of the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant schemes in the context of the Equal Status Acts, the government decided to close both schemes to new applicants on the 26th of February this year.
The government decided on the 12th of June last, that payments of Mobility Allowance should temporarily continue to be made by the Health Service Executive to those persons currently in receipt of the allowance for a further number of months, on the basis that this would prevent hardship, and, on an interim basis, alleviate stress, anxiety and uncertainty among a vulnerable group in society.
Following detailed consideration of the Interim Report of the Review Group chaired by Sylda Langford, which was established to seek an alternative method to provide for the priority transport needs of people in a manner that does not run counter to the Equal Status Acts, the government decided that new statutory provisions should be established to provide individual payments to people with severe disabilities who require additional income to address the costs of their mobility needs.
An Inter-Departmental group was asked to develop detailed proposals, including eligibility criteria and administrative arrangements, and to report back to Government.
The Inter-Departmental Group submitted initial proposals to the government for consideration and these will be considered further in the development of the new statutory scheme.
The existing position regarding the Motorised Transport Grant remains as before i.e. the scheme remains closed. The Inter-Departmental Group will consider this further at a later date.