The Citizen’s Advice charity is warning that sick and disabled people are being ‘let down’ by the system that assesses them for motoring benefits.
Citizens Advice Mid Lincolnshire, which covers the Sleaford and Boston area, says the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) system is failing local people and robbing them of their independence.
PIP is a benefit for those aged 16-64 with a long-term health condition or disability. As part of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)welfare changes, PIP began replacing DLA in April 2013.
Stuart Hellon, CEO of Citizens Advice Mid Lincolnshire said: “Sick and disabled people are being let down by PIP failures. The Personal Independence Payment is supposed to help with mobility costs, but many people are being denied the benefit because they are not assessed properly.Sometimes that means people lose their cars - a massive blow which impacts on their ability to remain independent, take part in their communities or get and keep a job. We help people on a daily basis who are confused about the outcome of their medical assessment.
“The process needs simplifying to ensure medical assessments get it right first time and avoid distress to sick and disabled people.“
The charity says, until recently, anyone receiving the highest rate of the ‘mobility component’ of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was eligible for the Motability Scheme, which allows disabled people to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair using their government-funded mobility allowance. The scheme also helps towards the cost of adaptations - such as a hoist for a wheelchair or hand controls. Under DLA, most people completed their own application form and did not have to reapply once entered into the scheme. With PIPs, everyone - new applicants and those already in receipt of DLA - will have to attend a face-to-face assessment by government-hired private companies, and only those scoring 12 points or more will qualify for support - currently £57.45 per week.
To date, Motability has seen around 51,200 people around the UK join the scheme using PIP. Of those previously on higher rate DLA, only 55 per cent of those reassessed for PIP have kept their car. The remaining 45 per cent - 13,900 people - have lost the higher rate and therefore their car as well.
The local Citizens Advice says it has helped people with illnesses and disabilities such as respiratory disease, arthritis, heart conditions, and partial and full loss of limbs whose vehicles had been adapted to meet their owners’ needs.
Peter, an amputee from North Kesteven, is only able to take a few steps, yet he did not score the points he needed to keep his Motability car. Peter was very distressed when he came to Citizens Advice as his specially-adapted vehicle had been removed from him and he was no longer able to get out and about. Three months after the CAB helped Peter to appeal the decision to remove his car, he received a call from DWP to say the decision had been overturned and he had been re-awarded the mobility component. He then had to purchase a new car and have it specially adapted. Peter said he found the whole experience distressful and difficult to cope with.
l The local CAB campaigns on behalf of people about the big issues affecting their lives and wants to hear from you if you have lost your mobility vehicle or suffered distress and financial worries as result of an inaccurate PIP descison.
l Share your story via: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8HK7VVT
For urgent help and support with PIP or other problems contact Citizens Advice Mid Lincolnshire on 03444 111 444.