Retired teacher refused help to buy adapted vehicle for wheelchair because of her 'age'

  • Sue Allcock tells ITV Granada Reports correspondent Elaine Willcox about her shock at being refused a motability vehicle

A retired teacher has been told she is not eligible for a specially adapted car to help her get around because she is of "pensionable age".

Sue Allcock says her life changed overnight when she suddenly lost feeling in both her legs, due spinal cord compression, in November 2023.

The usually busy 74-year-old, from Glossop, regularly took care of her grandchildren, travelled in her motorhome, and is a big part of her local cricket club.

But she can no longer stand on her own and now needs a wheelchair to get around.

After applying for help to fund a special motability vehicle to keep her independence, she was told she did not qualify, as she was too old.

Sue has now had to use a large part of her £22,000 savings to buy an ex-motability van to ensure she is able to get around.

She has also had to move her bed to her living room and pay £600 a week for carers to get her out of bed in the morning, washed and dressed before helping her back to bed at night.

"My life has just totally changed from upstairs to downstairs and I need help to do everyday things".

Sue Allcock lost feeling in her legs as a result of spinal cord compression Credit: ITV Granada

Jo Williams, Sue's daughter and a physiotherapist, is moving her family closer to her mum to be able to help along with her brother.

But the family were shocked to find out Sue is not eligible for a motability vehicle because of her age.

Jo said: "I'm angry if I'm honest, my mum doesn't have anything left from paying for her carers, which is more than the Attendance Allowance she receives, and there is nothing left to help with her mobility."

The family were told Sue had developed the spinal condition before she was 65, and had received her state pension, she would have been able to get an adapted vehicle as part of a benefits package.

But instead, as the former the teacher, who has worked all her life, has drawn her pension, and is above 65, she does not qualify.

Martin Hibbert and Jo Williams who met struggling to get to disabled car parking spaces Credit: ITV Granada

Martin Hibbert, who survived the Manchester Arena bomb attack and is a disability advocate, met Sue while filming a special series for ITV Granada Reports highlighting the challenges disabled people face every day.

"It is shocking that in 2024 that disabled people are treated like second class citizens, and that's what I am trying to change," he said.

Martin is Vice President of the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) who are now working with the motability scheme to give more people confidence to use transport.

Mark Ridler, SIA director of programmes, who has a spinal cord injury after a motorbike crash said: "Being able to move outside your own house is a prerequisite to leading a life that's worth living.

“Confidence to travel is a major prerequisite to engaging with family, access to a livelihood, maintaining a social life and, in other words, living a fulfilled life.

"This relies on knowledge and the necessary tools and access.

"We seek to transform the lives of 4,000 people in the first year and through systematic change, ultimately tens of thousands of people accessing all the travel support and advocacy they need.”

Sue says her life would be "dreadful" without access to transport.

She said: "Dreadful, absolutely awful because I love being outside and that vehicle outside will allow me to do some of that, with help."

She is fulsome in her praise for High Peak Borough Council who are providing a lift and wet room, to allow her to live as independently as possible at home.

But the amount she receives from an Attendance Allowance does not cover her care costs and that is a huge concern for her and her family.

Her daughter Jo said: "Her mum is fortunate that she has worked hard to have some savings but they didn't think they would be buying an adapted van just to get around.

"There have been lots of tears along the way as a family and it has taken courage for my mum to speak out'.

"If you talking to you, can help people understand what the situation could be for them, and perhaps help them plan.

"It might also give them a louder voice to enable things to change for those in wheelchairs, in terms of better support."

Sue says Martin is a "hero in lots of ways, trying to help people like me and make the world a better place for disabled people".

In a statement, the Department of Work and Pensions said: “The Motability scheme is open to anyone in receipt of qualifying benefits."

“We provide a strong financial safety net for pensioners and people with disabilities. We have increased the State Pension and Pension Credit by 8.5% this year, while Attendance Allowance may be claimed by pensioners with care needs.”

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