For Written Answer on : 10/10/2023
Question Number(s): 139 Question Reference(s): 44128/23
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
* To ask the Minister for Finance his views on extending the terms of the disabled drivers and disabled passengers scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– David Stanton T.D.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 10 October, 2023.
The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT on the 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, as defined by meeting one of six medical criteria. The criteria are as follows:
- Be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs.
- Be wholly without the use of one of their legs and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that they are severely restricted as to movement of their 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 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).
The final report of the NDIS Transport Working Group’s review of mobility and transport supports including the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme (DDS), endorsed proposals for a modern, fit-for-purpose vehicle adaptation scheme in line with international best practice that would replace the DDS, as it is no longer fit-for-purpose on any and all aspects. The proposals note this was a clear deliverable for the near future.
The NDIS TWG was chaired by Minister Anne Rabbitte and led by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY).
Access to transport for people with disabilities is a multifaceted issue that involves work carried out by multiple Government departments and agencies. Under the aegis of the Department of Taoiseach officials from relevant Departments and agencies are meeting to discuss the issues arising from the NDIS report and to map a way forward. My officials are proactively engaging with this Senior Officials Group work as an important step in considering ways to replace the DDS, as one specific personal transport response, in the context of broader Government consideration of holistic, multifaceted and integrated transport and mobility supports for those with a disability. A first meeting was held in July 2023. Department of Taoiseach officials are currently considering material supplied after that meeting.
In that context, any further changes to the existing DDS would run counter to NDIS proposals to entirely replace the scheme with a modern, fit-for-purpose vehicular adaptation scheme.