DISABILITY FEDERATION SHOCKED BY WITHDRAWAL OF MOBILITY ALLOWANCE

26th February 2013, Dublin - The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) are today shocked by the Department of Health’s announcement of the withdrawal of the Mobility Allowance scheme and the Disabled Drivers Grant following consideration by the Government this morning.  The decision was made following the publication of a report from the Ombudsman in October 2012 stating that the Government was not in compliance with equality legislation in their implementation of these schemes.

John Dolan, CEO of DFI said “Mobility Allowance has been in operation since 1979 and is a vital part of the support infrastructure to help people to live and to be active in the community. The full rate of this means tested allowance, €208.50  per month, will be permanently discontinued in four months time.  This is a savage reduction given that most of the people involved are in receipt of a weekly Disability Allowance of less than €190 per week.”

These two schemes are part of the Disability Services Programme in the Department of Health which was subject to a full Value for Money and Policy review between 2009 and 2012.  However, the Department of Health chose not to review these schemes along with a range of other community related programmes.

Mr Dolan voiced concern regarding time frames for the review of the scheme.  “The only place in the Statement issued by the Department where there is a definite time line is for the withdrawal of funding for both these schemes. There is no completion time line for the work of the Special Review Group being set up or to have a new programme in place.  This government committed to having an implementation plan for the National Disability Strategy, it was to be completed in six months, a further nine months have elapsed. This is what the government should have signed off on rather that a set of draconian cuts to individuals and families already hard hit by the recession.”

Mr Dolan went on to say “Equality legislation was enacted in the late 1990’s.  Surely, the Department of Health has, long before now, conducted an audit of it’s services and programmes to ensure that they were compliant with such legislation.”

He concluded by saying “In a day when public service workers are coming to grips with the proposals from the Croke Park negotiations it is ironic that a much more severe cut is unilaterally made to such payments without any discussions or negotiations with their representative organisations.  The Department is taking the view that it was forced to take this action. The Department is not the victim here, the 4700 people with disabilities and their families are the victims of what can accurately  be described as an unprecedented and unannounced withdrawal of vital funding. This comes on top of the general attrition of the recession. These people and their families are not immune from the ongoing effects of the recession.”

ENDS

For further information please contact

John Dolan, CEO, 086 795 7467

Allen Dunne, Deputy CEO, 086 850 2112

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