Smith criticises Govt failure to replace Mobility Allowance

One year on & no attempt to replace schemes for hundreds of people with disabilities in Cavan-Monaghan

Cavan-Monaghan Deputy Brendan Smith has criticised the Government for failing to make any attempt to replace two support schemes for people with disabilities that were discontinued a year ago.

The Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant were closed to new applicants from February 2013. The Government promised in June that the schemes would be replaced.

“There was outcry when the Government discontinued these two important supports for people with disabilities were cancelled last year. An estimated 80 people in Cavan and Monaghan are dependent on the Mobility Allowance alone. They are still in limbo as the Government drags its heels on establishing alternative support schemes. It is completely unacceptable that a year later, these people are still waiting,” said Deputy Smith.

“The Government first announced the cancellation of these schemes early last year, describing them as ‘obsolete’. It caused great distress among people with disabilities who depend on such support to maintain a level of independence. The Mobility Allowance benefits approximately 5,000 people across the country, accounting for approximately 20% of their income. It means that not only are the people who are already on the schemes left without any answers, hundreds more have been unable to apply since February 2013. These people were promised that alternative schemes would be set up but we have seen absolutely no hint of this from the Government over the past year.

“Is Fine Gael just hoping this will simply go away? People with disabilities have waited far too long for the supports they were entitled to. Unfortunately the scrapping of these two schemes is just one element of a sustained attack on people with disabilities. The disability allowance was cut in this Government’s first budget three years ago, home help hours were cut the following summer, people had to camp outside Government Buildings to reverse the cut to personal assistants. There have been cuts to the domiciliary care allowance and cuts to the respite grant.

“The very least that the Government can do is to establish a permanent replacement for the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grants. I am appealing to the Health Minister James Reilly and his Fine Gael colleagues to do this as quickly as possible.”