We are delighted to welcome the announcement of a Charity VAT Compensation Scheme by Minister For Finance and Public Expenditure Pascal Donoghue in the 2018 Budget Announcement.

This scheme was the cornerstone of pre-budget submission issued earlier this year.  You can read our submission in full below

Irish Guide Dogs Pre-Budget 2018 Submission

This proposal was sent to the relevant departments and ministers and we hope that it will back up our work lobbying the government on these issues and assist them in bringing positive change to our community.

In our pre-budget submission for 2018, We are calling for:

1. Call for VAT Compensation Scheme for Charities:

The impact of the ‘Levy’ paid by Charities on irrecoverable VAT is significant. It increases the increases costs and reduces the benefits from fundraising activity, this has a direct impact on the ability to provide services. We recommend the government follow the decision of Denmark to adopt such a scheme in 2007. There the compensation payment amounts to approximately 33% of overall qualifying VAT claimed and provides the sector with a significant compensation payment.

2. Call For Action on Vision 2020:

We are calling for the government to prioritise a Vision Strategy for Ireland. A properly resourced approach is needed immediately to address the growing waiting lists for sight saving procedures for issues such as Glaucoma, Cataract and others. By putting the focus of an all government approach to a Vision 2021 Strategy Ireland as a nation will be in a position to lead the world not just on eye health but also service provision for those who are blind or visually impaired.

3. Call for an Inclusive Mobility Committee:

Irish Guide Dogs is calling for the establishment of an Inclusive Mobility Committee to advocate for national accessibility standards with regards the built environment, public information and public services. The function of the committee should be to ensure the needs of persons with vision, mobility, hearing and intellectual impairments are addressed. This committee should comprise of suitable advocates from representative disability organisations. The committee should also comprise of suitable public body representatives including access officers, planners, engineers, architects and designers.
Governmental grants should be allocated to the committee to assist with appropriate research to establish standards and guidelines, in partnership with the Centre for Excellence and Universal Design. In recent years local authorities are redesigning urban areas with the application of controversial Shared Space principles. The Inclusive Mobility Committee should work with local authorities to ensure the needs of persons with vision, hearing, mobility and intellectual impairments are considered at the design and planning stage of urban environments.

4. Call to increase Benefits for Guide Dog and Assistance dog Owners:

We recommend a weekly increase of €20 to benefits claimed by Guide Dog Owners and Assistance Dog Owners. These currently include the Blind Person’s Pension, Disability Benefit, and Disability Allowance. The cost of owning a guide dog or assistance dog is estimated at €1000 annually. Guide dogs and assistance dogs are essential mobility and safety aids to their owners and this welfare increase would be an invaluable support to claimants.

5. Call for Discretionary Medical Cards:

We are calling for the re-allocation of discretionary medical cards to blind or vision-impaired persons and families of children with autism. The medical costs incurred by persons with these conditions can be overwhelming and can deter blind or vision- impaired persons and families of children with autism from availing of appropriate health care and prescribed medications.

Discretionary medical cards should be allocated to blind or vision- impaired persons and families of children with autism according to their need to access the Health Service to maintain their medical condition and also their need to work with an appropriate health professional to deter unnecessary onset of their medical condition, rather than an assessment of their financial hardship. Medical card assessment should be based on need.
6. Call to safeguard the Free Companion Travel Pass for People who are blind or have impaired vision regardless of Means Testing or Financial Hardship:

In previous years there has been speculation in relation to the withdrawal of Free Companion Travel Passes. Irish Guide Dogs is calling for the safe-guarding of this scheme as it is essential to people who are blind or have impaired vision. The Free Companion Travel Pass and the Free Travel Pass should be issued to people with vision loss according to their need due to being blind or having impaired vision rather than an assessment of their financial hardship. This would ensure people who are dependent on public transport and just outside the means test for the Blind Pension can avail of public transport to access employment opportunities and social activities without enduring undue financial hardship.

Private hire vehicles should be incentivised to sign up to the scheme to ensure greater access to travel for persons with vision loss particularly in the midlands and other rural areas. Appropriate access to transport in rural and urban areas is absolutely essential to the mobility and independence of people with vision loss.

For additional information please contact: Lean Kennedy – [email protected] Advocacy Policy Co-Ordinator