• Government ‘has stripped Paralympians of their Motability vehicles’

    Hannah and Ben

    Paralympians heading to Rio next week have lost their Motability vehicles after being reassessed as part of the government’s programme of benefit cuts and reforms, a member of the ParalympicsGB team has revealed.

    Some Paralympians have spoken previously of the importance of the support they receive from the benefits system, particularly through disability living allowance (DLA), but this is the first confirmation that any of them have lost that support as a result of the government’s austerity programme.

    The concerns were raised by wheelchair-racer Ben Rowlings, one of the young track stars of the British team, who is set to compete in the T34 100 metres and 800 metres in Rio, and holds the British record at 100, 200, 400 and 800 metres.

    He currently receives the higher rate mobility component of DLA, which has allowed him to use that payment to lease a vehicle through the Motability scheme.

    But like hundreds of thousands of other disabled people, he has been told he will be reassessed for the government’s new personal independence payment (PIP) – introduced in 2013 in a bid to cut working-age DLA spending by 20 per cent – and that an assessment of his eligibility will take place next year.

    The Shropshire resident does much of his training 50 miles away in Coventry, alongside fellow Paralympians Kare Adenegan and Mel Nicholls, and told Disability News Service this week that the PIP reassessment could put his career in jeopardy if it results in him losing his Motability car.

    He said: “It is something that’s on my mind because without the access to having my Motability car… I wouldn’t be able to get to any of the training that I do.

    “I need my car, I need the support to get me around to places, and training and work, because racing is my job, and without the support of the Motability [car] and the DLA, I wouldn’t be able to get to training.”

    The 20-year-old said he knew of fellow Paralympians who have already lost their Motability cars after being reassessed for PIP.

    He said: “There have been Paralympians who have been told that they are too able to claim Motability and they have had to fight to get the cars back because they have been taken off them.

    “I don’t know too much about it, I haven’t spoken to them about it because that’s a personal matter for them, but it’s something I’m a little bit concerned about.”

    He said he was not comfortable providing further details about colleagues, and could not say how many fellow team-members had lost their Motability vehicles, but added: “All I know is anyone with disabilities is getting assessed at the moment, so it’s a possibility for any of us.”

    Last month, another ParalympicsGB star wheelchair-racer, Hannah Cockroft, told DNS she was “scared” that she would lose her independence when she was reassessed for PIP.

    Cockroft, who won double gold at London 2012, has also yet to be assessed for PIP, but she said that she was dreading her eventual reassessment, the possibility of having her support cut, and potentially losing the car she leases through the Motability scheme.

    Motability has said that it expects 35,000 vehicles will have to be returned by disabled people during 2016 as a result of the PIP reassessment programme.

    Of Motability customers reassessed for PIP so far, 44 per cent of them have lost their entitlement to the scheme and have had to hand their vehicles back.

    Activists who took part in a national day of action last month – organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), WinVisible and the Mental Health Resistance Network – said they believed PIP was “rotten to the core”, and pointed to growing evidence of the “shoddy nature” of PIP assessments, which are carried out by the government’s contractors, Capita and Atos.

    The British Paralympic Association – which manages the ParalympicsGB team – has not responded to a request for a comment.

    Asked how removing a Motability vehicle from a Paralympian training for Rio would have helped their medal efforts, a Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “This question is unfounded.

    “Decisions on Motability are made based on claimants’ individual needs and after consideration of all the evidence, including an assessment and information provided by the claimant and their GP.

    “All claimants have the opportunity to appeal their decision.”

    Asked how many Paralympians had lost their Motability vehicles after being reassessed, she said: “We do not ask PIP claimants whether they are Paralympians, and they are not required to disclose this information when making a claim.

    “Therefore, we are unable to answer this question.”

    But she said there were now more people on the Motability scheme than before PIP was introduced*, while the “majority of people leaving the Motability scheme will be eligible for a one-off payment of £2,000**, which will help ensure their mobility needs continue to be met”.

    Asked if DWP accepted that DLA and PIP played a vital part in providing the support that disabled people need to live independently and contribute to society, she said: “Yes. DLA and PIP provide important support for those who have been assessed as meeting the criteria for the benefit(s).”

    Meanwhile, research by the MS Society suggests that up to one in 10 of the 100,000 people with multiple sclerosis in the UK could lose the highest rate of mobility support as a result of the PIP reassessment process.

    The charity has estimated that more than 1,000 people with MS have already had their benefits cut since PIP was introduced.

    Under DLA, 93 per cent of people with MS who received the benefit [not everyone with MS claims DLA or PIP] were awarded the highest rate of the mobility component, and of the 4,349 DLA claimants with MS who have so far been reassessed and awarded any kind of PIP award, only 70 per cent have received the equivalent rate.

    The charity is calling on people with MS to share their experiences of the reassessment process with the government’s second independent review of PIP.

    *The Motability scheme is still growing slowly overall, at about 1.5 per cent a year, because of the number of new members joining, and currently has 651,000 vehicles (636,000 through the car scheme and 15,000 powered wheelchairs and scooters). Motability expects the overall number of customers to start falling at some stage in the reassessment process but does “not expect the number of vehicles to fall below 600,000 over the next few year”.

    **This payment applies to those customers who joined the scheme before January 2013.

    News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

    Roisin Norris

    Hi I'm Roisin Norris, Digital Marketing Executive at DisabledGo and I will be uploading blogs and news for you all to read.

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    • Keith Francis Farrell

      What this government wants of all disabled people is to give up. Stop trying and die.
      Yes, that is the truth. I use a walking aid and in pain medication. I cannot walk the 220 yards to the bus stop. Or the 800 yards to the station. Even if I got to the station there is no way to the platform unless I jump. My mobility car was taken away. I brought a car but when adding in all the costs. It takes one weeks ESA plus all my PIP. I find I’m surviving. I stopped trying. Now I am in even worse health. Last night I asked myself why. Why keep living.
      The first thing is spitting ESA and pip, only ESA is means tested. What that means is your spouse has to take on the load, paying all your accounts and looking after you. For me, my spouse left. It was too much punishment. Do I’ve lost my spouse, now divorced. Caused a heart attack. So what is left for me. Nothing!

      • agewait

        Keith, please may I share your letter around FB and Twitter?

        • Keith Francis Farrell

          You may with pleasure.
          I have a large thrombosis in the lower love of my left lung. Bilateral multi focal emboli.
          I ace been on a months antibiotics. Managed about two weeks but am now back on antibiotics again. Still coughing my lungs out. Still sore.
          Today I was thinking that the DWP is liable for the damage I have no suffered in their unfeeling way they treat disabled people. I tried to keep active. Even when things got bad. Now o just survive. I’m tired of it. You can personal message me on facebook, under my full names.

          • agewait

            Thank You Keith…. I shall be reminding our PM that whilst her Words were welcome its ‘Deeds’ that really Matter. Parliament needs to be confronted with the outcomes of its shameful policies!

            • Keith Francis Farrell

              Sorry just saw my phones auto correct messed up a few words.
              I have spondylotheisis that is agrivated by an earlier injury. That’s why I am on PIP.

    • Caroline Harrold

      I was denied the higher rate of mobility PIP (required to qualify for motability scheme) purely because I can ‘plan a journey’ – ie; Use a sat nav! Yet I cannot walk 20 metres without pain, stiffness and exhaustion! If I could not plan a journey, what on earth am I doing driving in the first place then? Many people have lost their motability cars for exactly the same reason!

    • Gemma

      Can someone please tell me by cutting peoples suport is good for their health and wel being sounds like the goverment want people to die, commit suicide and have depression the goverment are suposed to look after people in this country. Its a version of the crulty wipe out the weak and just look after the others wow talk about the past with Hitler thought we as a country were better than that. Does not make proud to be britsh/english.

    • StevenPJ

      I have rapidly come to the conclusion that only people confined to wheelchairs, are blind deaf and dumb will meet PIP criteria. Outrageous.

    • Michelle Cardno

      If the person cannot stand and walk with the use of walking aids (not a wheelchair) then they should get enhanced mobility if they don’t then contact us as we are fighting these cases and winning 95% of them at Fightback4justice. New caselaw also helps is someone pushes them through severe pain odd times. We got 500 or so enquiries each week for people failing pip on our probono helpline. You need to be prepared and ensure you have new medical evidence to fight a decision. If someone cannot move because try are in a wheelchair then a wheelchair referral letter can help. Driving a manual car will almost certainly lose you enhances rate as dwp and the assessors know you have sufficient power in your legs to push in the clutch and plan a journey. They fail to ask how often you do it or what the after effects are. There are lots of tips on our page to help combat these assumptions. We have been set up 4 years now and I was trained in pip law for 2 years before it was enacted in 2013 we have helped 1000s this year alone all over the UK win it back or transfer smoothly. If you get it right the first time and fit the new criteria then it’s painless.

    • Andrew Smith

      The ONLY way is to buy or hire your Mobility Aid , then they can’t take it away from you .

    • Hohum2

      They want disabled folk to work, but a number have lost jobs when they lost their adapted motability vehicles. Where is the sense in that? This government is incapable of joined up thinking.