The Department of Health announced today that the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant will no longer be available to people with disabilities. The Department states that under the Equal Status Act the payments were unlawful. They have also stated that alternative schemes will be considered, ring-fencing the €10.6 million currently used in the schemes.
People with MS and other disabilities have come to rely on these payments to live from month to month. Having money to assist with transport means other income can be used to buy food, fuel and essential medical supplies. Added to the on-going nationwide cuts and taxes experienced by everyone, people with MS and other disabilities already bear a greater burden relating to the cost of their disability. Additional medical charges, transport costs and equipment purchase places greater pressure on people with disabilities to make ends meet.
Ava Battles, Chief Executive of MS Ireland says a few hundred people with Multiple Sclerosis will be affected by the cuts and there removal will limit people’s ability to participate in society,
“The payments enable people with disabilities to take a more active role in their family life, work life and local community. Taking away people’s right to social participation diminishes their quality of life and ability to contribute to society. For the few hundred people with MS we estimate are in receipt of these payments, we know many will suffer if an alternative, appropriate scheme is not introduced soon.”
The Mobility Allowance is a means tested payment of €206 a month aimed to supplement a disabled person income to assist them with various transport needs such as taxis to hospital appointments, community activities etc. The payment is particularly important in areas without good public transport. The allowance will cease in four months. The Motorised Transport Grant is a means tested payment given to assist a disabled person purchase a second hand car to enable them to continue working and taking part in community life.
MS Ireland is currently working with the Disability Federation of Ireland to ensure the money from the scheme is used to establish and run replacement schemes within the next four months.
Read more from the Irish Times today.