Dáil Éireann - Volume 602 - 24 May, 2005
Written Answers - Taxi Hardship Panel.
Mr. F. McGrath Mr. F. McGrath
274. Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Transport the details of developments to assist taxi drivers and former taxi drivers from the hardship fund set up following deregulation; and the reason 300 taxi drivers were excluded from these payments. [17028/05]
Mr. Cullen Mr. Cullen
Mr. Cullen: The taxi hardship payments scheme was established in 2003 to implement the recommendations of the independent taxi hardship panel report, as approved by the Government. It was made clear at the outset that payments under the scheme did not represent compensation but rather compassionate payments in respect of extreme personal financial hardship.
The taxi hardship payments scheme is administered by Area Development Management Limited on behalf of my Department. Application forms were issued to all persons who made submissions to the taxi hardship panel. In addition, newspaper advertisements were placed in the national newspapers on 6 November 2003 and 27 February 2004 inviting applications under the scheme. Applications were sought from individual taxi licence holders at 21 November 2000 who could demonstrate that they had suffered  extreme personal financial hardship following loss of income arising from the liberalisation of the taxi licensing regime, who fall into one of the six categories in which payment was recommended by the taxi hardship panel report and who are tax compliant. The final date for receipt of applications under the scheme was 24 September 2004.
The content of the application form and the qualifying criteria for applicants under the scheme were the subject of several serious discussions between the Department and taxi representative groups. In accordance with the recommendations of the taxi hardship panel report, the general requirements to be met were identified for all applicants under the scheme. In addition, specific eligibility criteria and requirements in respect of each category of hardship were also identified. These were detailed on the application form.
The scheme allowed individuals who found, due to their particular circumstances, that they fell outside the requirements for a particular category of hardship, to submit their application for consideration by ADM and to include information regarding the extenuating circumstances involved in their hardship. The scheme also included an appeals procedure for unsuccessful applicants.
ADM advised all unsuccessful applicants of the reasons their application was not deemed to be eligible to receive a hardship payment under the scheme. They were also advised of their right to appeal the decision and to have their application reassessed by a review panel. The membership of the review panel was different from that of the appraisal committee who assessed the original application.
ADM received 1,937 applications. Payments totalling €17,268,000 have been made in respect of 1,498 qualifying persons up to 12 May 2005. With the exception of one, all applications under the scheme have been processed at this stage. Four applications have been approved in principle for payment subject to the submission of further information or documentation, for example, a clearance certificate; 340 applicants have not qualified for a payment as they did not meet the criteria for eligibility. A further 94 application files have been closed where the applicant did not submit the requisite information or documentation to facilitate the consideration of their application. A total of 209 appeals under the scheme have been received and considered up to 12 May 2005; 18 original application decisions have been revised and paid on appeal. Decisions on a further six appeals are pending.
The processing and consideration of applications under the taxi hardship payments scheme is undertaken independently of my Department which has no details of applications made to ADM under the scheme. I am, therefore, not in a position to comment on specific details of any  individual case. However, all applicants who did not qualify for a payment under the scheme were advised of the reasons for this decision and afforded the opportunity of an appeal in accordance with the arrangements outlined above.
Dáil Éireann 602 Written Answers Taxi Hardship Panel.