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Thousands of disabled people lose special cars due to controversial scheme

50,000 people have had their motability vehicle taken away after being put on PIP Photo: ITV Border

David Gale from Cumbria, started a petition after his motability vehicle was taken away. It happened under changes to his disability benefits, when in 2016, he was reassessed and moved from the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme.

He won an appeal against the change, but by then he had already spent thousands of his family savings on a new adapted car for him to drive, 30 miles to work.

There are thousands of similar cases to David's around the country. It is his hope that others won't have to go through what he did.

David Gale had his motability vehicle taken away after being put on PIP Credit: ITV Border

On 11 October, I had to give my Motability vehicle back. I was devastated and lodged an appeal to get it back.

In the meantime I had no choice but to use our family savings to buy a new adapted car in order to keep my job.

An appeal tribunal eventually overturned the original decision – but our savings are gone.

– David Gale
David Gale's petition Credit: ITV Border

Figures released by disability charity, Muscular Dystrophy UK, show 50,000 disabled people have had their motability vehicles taken away after their disability benefits were reassessed:

  • Over 900 people returning motability vehicle a week
  • 51,000 people have lost access to motability vehicles after being switched from DLA to PIP.
  • The number of people eligible for motability funding has fallen in half during the reassessment process.
  • 126,300 of the 254,200 people who were eligible for Motability funding under DLA and were reassessed for PIP by 31 October 2016 have lost access to it.
  • Yet 65 per cent of people who contest their PIP award have won their case on appeal, demonstrating the failures in how cuts have been made.
  • Muscular Dystrophy UK has seen the number of people contacting the charity about problems with their PIP more than double in the last six months.
900
cars are being removed from claimants each week
65%
of decisions are overturned at tribunal in the claimant's favour

Muscular Dystrophy UK say the criteria determining whether you are eligible to receive a motability vehicle or not is the change to the distance you are required to walk unaided:

  • Under DLA, a person must be unable to walk unaided for 20 metres
  • Under PIP, a person must be unable to walk unaided for 50 metres

The Government has not been able to produce any evidence to support the use of the 20-metre rule, which was introduced by the DWP with no prior warning.

Many people being assessed do not know the rules about the reliability criteria, and are losing their vehicles as they can barely or unsafely walk 20 metres.

– Muscular Dystrophy UK

They are supporting David's petition and say, "the appeals process currently takes longer than the time allowed for people to return their cars."

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.

– Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information, Muscular dystrophy UK

The Department of Work and Pensions say they constantly review their processes and do provide a one-off payment of £2,000 for those they consider ineligible for the motability scheme.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Damian Green was asked if the change in the assessment is fair:

There are more people on the Motability scheme than there were in 2010. Anyone who receives the higher mobility rate for PIP can qualify for a Motability car, and since 2015, 42,000 people on PIP have received cars from the scheme to help them get around.

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.

– Department of Work and Pensions

The DWP say when one of their decisions have been overturned, it is often because the claimant provided more evidence.

They also say they will continue to provide a "standard rate mobility component" for those on the PIP benefits scheme.