TD disappointed that Government did not start processing Primary Medical Certs now
Up to 2,400 people who are entitled to access to the disabled driver scheme which was suspended last June may have to wait a further six months for approval as HSE doctors are diverted to the Covid vaccination programme, says Denis Naughten TD
“Rather applications being processed for the last number of weeks, as previously outlined by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, we have to wait for a new commencement date of 1st January because the Government did not take on board a proposal that I put to Dáil Éireann last week,” said Denis Naughten.
“But while the HSE can legally start to process applications for primary medical certs from 1st January on the same basis as last year I am very concerned that waiting lists will actually increase because the doctors involved in this scheme will also be involved with vaccinating for Covid-19. As a result, the waiting list could actually increase by 150 people every month.
“It could very well be the middle of the year, if not later, before this backlog is cleared and as a result 2,400 people who should have disabled drivers’ financial supports will not. This is just not good enough.
“This is not acceptable and there is no reason why applications could not have been processed over the last number of weeks while HSE doctors were waiting for a technical change to the law, to allow these people access a reduction in VRT and VAT when purchasing or adapting a vehicle after a tortuous process. It also exempts them from motor tax and tolls and offers a fuel grant,” said Deputy Naughten.
“For many disabled people who have no access to public transport, this is the only assistance available to them to get around as the Motorised Transport Grant and Mobility Allowance were both suspended seven years ago. We could have 2,400 people effectively marooned in their own homes due to these delays.”
Over the last number of months Deputy Naughten, Chair of the Dáil Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands, has campaigned for the reinstatement of the Disabled Drivers Scheme as its suspension was effectively marooning people with a disability who did not have direct access to public transport.
He has now asked colleagues in Seanad Éireann to press the Finance Minister on this important issue as the Finance Bill makes its way through the Upper House.
Previous statements and background to the problem: