Disability vehicles to be taken away from thousands 0

Disability-vehicles-to-be-taken-away-from-thousandsOver 50,000 UK people with disabilities have had their specially modified vehicles taken away since changes to disability benefits were introduced in 2013.

The ‘Motability’ enterprise allowed people with disabilities to hire a car, scooter or powered wheelchair adapted specifically to their needs.

The scheme has revealed that 51,000 people have had their vehicles reclaimed however since the benefit scheme changed in 2013.

The government says there are more people enlisted with Motability now then there was in 2010.

The new assessment process was introduced five years ago when personal independence payments (PIPs) were launched to replace the disability living allowance (DLA).

Of the 51,000 to be removed from the scheme, 3,000 have successfully appealed and been readmitted.

To receive PIP, candidates are first accessed via a points system to determine what level of help they are entitled to.

In order to qualify for the higher levels of the mobility subsection of PIPs, which are required to hire a Motability vehicle, there are a number of criteria, including being able to walk unaided for 20 metres. This has been reduced from the previous distance of 50 metres whilst under the DLA.

The charity Muscular Dystrophy UK reported that 900 vehicles are now taken each week as more people are rejected for PIP.

Campaigners are demanding alterations be made to the Motability programme, so claimants can keep their vehicles while they appeal against a ruling. Amongst them is Conservative MP Peter Bone who said: “You need it for mobility purposes and maybe you use it for work, but because you lose your PIP award you lose the car at the same time.

“You appeal against the PIP award and ultimately the tribunal awards you back the PIP, but you’ve already lost the car and maybe your job because of it.”

Labour MP and former work and pensions minister Angela Eagle added: “What’s happening in the worst cases is, from being mobile and being able to get out and about in a car, that’s been removed and this may mean people have had their ability to live their life at taken away, and some of them are left housebound.”

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that since PIPs were introduced, more than 160,000 people have had their original rejection overturned at mandatory reconsideration or at appeal.

Some 65% of decisions are now overturned at tribunal in the claimant’s favour, according to the latest Ministry of Justice statistics.

Nic Bungay, director of campaigns, care and information at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “Each of the 51,000 vehicles being taken away is a story about a disabled person’s independence being compromised.

“This is having a devastating effect on quality of life.

“The fact that two-thirds of people who contest their PIP award win their case shows that the system isn’t working and is in urgent need of reform.”

The DWP says a fraction of PIP decisions are overturned, while those taken off the Motability scheme are eligible for £2,000 of support.

A DWP spokeswoman said: “The reality is that, since PIP was introduced in 2013, more than two million decisions have been made; of these just 7% have been appealed and 3% have been overturned.

“But we constantly review our processes, to make sure they are working in the best way possible”.

She said there are now 70,000 more people on the Motability scheme compared with 2010.

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