1. ITV Report

Benefit reform stress for man with life-limiting disabilities who is determined to work

Mark Tibbett has a specially-adapted car Credit: Trinity Mirror

Relying on DWP benefits for lifeline services can leave some claimants feeling like they’re walking on a tightrope, not knowing when the boundaries will be changed.

It is a concern for Teessiders battling life-limiting disabilities who are living with the threat of having their benefit payments reduced under a new Personal Independent Payment (PIP) scheme.

Those people receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) - which may include the use of a specially adapted car - are being reassessed, while being moved over to the new scheme.

Middlesbrough man Mark Tibbett was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), which affects his joints and makes it difficult for him to walk, work or do things independently.

Mark Tibbett has a specially-adapted car Credit: Trinity Mirror

As a result, a specially-adapted car - granted by the DWP - was given to his family, and subsequently him, several years ago.

He says the vehicle proved a lifeline for him and essential for him to get around.

The automatic car, has an adapted steering wheel making it possible for him to use the indicators, lights and wipers.

The steering is also three times lighter than that of a standard vehicle.

Despite the rare disability, which caused his hands to not form properly, the 29-year-old is determined to work. He did not want to live a life on benefit.

Mark Tibbett has a specially-adapted car Credit: Trinity Mirror

He says his DWP stress started in November, when he was told that he would lose his vehicle. At the time the decision was made, Mark had been working in a call centre in Thornaby for high street bank Santander for around a month.

The reality of losing his car would mean having to leave his job, and possibly being forced to live on benefits.

Mark, who lives in the Scholar’s Rise area of Middlesbrough with his wife Stephanie, said:

I’ve always tried to work. “Most jobs I can’t do, so I try to get office-type administration jobs. I need somewhere where I can sit down and have quite a few breaks.

I went through the initial assessment. They take you off the Disability Support Allowance (DSA) and put you on to PIP.

The decision came through that they were going to take my car from me. If they did take it from me that would be it.

I can’t really walk far, and if I do, I fall a lot.

I would lose my job because I wouldn’t be able to get there. It’s literally my lifeline.”

– Mark Tibbett

Mark, originally from Grangetown, went through an appeal process that took two months.

The DWP decided to overturn the decision and Mark will now keep his car.

I’m over the moon. Totally relieved.

It was going on for two months so it really got me down. I’ve been stressed about it since they first got in touch with me about it.

The lady I went to see to do the assessment sent it off to somebody who had no health experience before.

It was somebody that has never seen me making that decision - she was just reading a few notes.”

– Mark Tibbett

Using public transport is almost impossible, as Mark falls over easily and cannot get back up again unaided.

I would lose everything if I didn’t have my car. I would be housebound, I would be on the dole.

I could easily sit at home and get paid by the Government, but I don’t want to do that. I wanted to do something with my life.

The adaptations are worth more than the car itself. The steering is three times lighter than a normal car.”

– Mark Tibbett

A DWP spokesman said:

Decisions for PIP are made using all evidence available at the time of the application.

In light of new information supplied by Mr Tibbett, we have upgraded his entitlement.”

– DWP statement