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'A sick bureaucratic monster' - Department slammed after disability payments axed

The government confirmed last night that it will axe the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant because it would be too costly to widen the schemes to ensure compliance with equality laws.

Health Minister James Reilly (File photo)
Health Minister James Reilly (File photo)
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE DECISION BY the Department of Health to axe two allowances for people with disabilities has been described as “appalling” by The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI)

In a statement last night the Department confirmed that the 4,700 people who receive a Mobility Allowance and 300 people who receive a Motorised Transport Grant will no longer receive these payments and will instead receive an alternative that is yet to be devised.

“It is important to note that the decision is in no way intended to save costs and the funding involved in the two schemes (€10.6 million) remains committed to meeting the transport needs of relevant people,” the Department said.

Both schemes have been closed to new entrants after the Department accepted that the two schemes – which barred entrants who are over 65 – were in breach of equality law – following a finding by the Ombusdsman Emily O’Reilly - but it said it would be too costly to widen both schemes.

DFI chief executive John Dolan told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the news last night had come “out of the blue” and said the discontinuation of both schemes “strikes at the heart of people who are already struggling to make ends meet”.

Dolan said there had been “no consultation, no engagement” on the matter with disability groups.

He said that the Department of Health had been in contact with the Ombudsman about the breach of the Equal Status Act that the two payments created for the last four years but that no action to correct this anomaly had been taken.

He said that the Department of Health is a “sick bureaucratic monster” which is taking a “Bart Simpson approach”.

Dolan said the Department’s attitude was: “It’s always someone else’s fault that we have to screw people with disabilities to the floor.”

Read: Government to axe Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant

Previously: Department of Health ‘illegally’ put age limit on disability allowance

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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