Tuesday 12 December 2017

Reprieve for thousands as mobility cuts on hold

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Thousands of people with severe disability – who were due to get their final mobility allowance payment this month – are to get a temporary reprieve.

Around 5,000 people, receiving a monthly allowance or the motorised transport grant, were told four months ago the payments were going to be axed.

However, the Department of Health announced yesterday the allowance would continue to be paid for several more months until it had set up alternatives.

A spokesman said the Cabinet yesterday noted the Interim Report of the Review Group, which was established following the government decision in February last to end the schemes.

He said that new statutory provisions "will be established to provide individual payments to people with severe disabilities who require additional income to address the costs of their mobility needs".

This will include eligibility criteria and administrative arrangements, and should report back to the Government by October. He said that, in addition, the Government had agreed that payments should temporarily continue to be made by the HSE to those currently in receipt of the mobility allowance for a further number of months, pending the start of the statutory scheme.

This has been done to "prevent hardship, and, on an interim basis, alleviate stress, anxiety and uncertainty among a vulnerable group in society", he added.

The Department of Health was told by Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly that it was breaching the Equal Status Act by not allowing anyone over 66 years to be eligible for mobility allowance.

The decision to give people with a disability individual payments as part of a new scheme will be welcomed. However, it remains to be seen how generous these are. The existing mobility allowance ranges from €104 to €208 a month but the payments under the scheme are likely to be lower.

Irish Independent

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