Saturday 24 February 2018

'This is bureaucracy gone mad' - Hundreds with intellectual disabilities 'stranded' over new taxation rules for HSE vehicles

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Stock Photo

Zainab Boladale

Service users at a home for people with intellectual disabilities have been "left stranded in their homes" after a dispute has arisen over new taxation rules for HSE vehicles.

Earlier this year, there was a change in policy by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government in regards to the motor taxation of state-owned vehicles, in particular HSE patient transport.

Under previous guidelines HSE vehicles were exempt from paying tax.

Eamonn Tierney, chairperson at St Joseph service for the intellectually disabled in Portrane, Dublin said up to 20 vehicles have been left "lying idle" as a result, making transport to and from the service difficult.

"This is bureaucracy gone mad. This is affecting some of the most vulnerable in our society and it cannot be allowed to continue, where they cannot get out of their homes."

A HSE representative said “transport arrangements have been put in place for residents”.

While Mr Tierney outlined that they've “tried getting a taxi, but a taxi car cannot fulfill the needs of the residents”.

"There would be a hundred living in Portrane and another hundred out living in the community that needs to be brought in," he explains further.

He said that staff at Portrane feel that between the local government and the HSE they’ve been “brought in circles” with no resolution offered since they made their first complaint in early May.

“We've taken this to all levels within the HSE and politically with no end in sight,” he said.

The issue was brought to the Dáíl and addressed to Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

In a response Minister Harris said: “The HSE is the responsible state body in relation to motor tax arrangements for any vehicles under its remit."

He added that "discussions are continuing between the HSE and the relevant motor tax policy division, with a view to concluding at the earliest opportunity".

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