Government ‘has stripped Paralympians of their Motability vehicles’


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 (pictured with Rowlings), 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.

  • User Ratings (19 Votes)
  • TimmyTomTom

    This is ridiculous, he can fly across the world and complete in sports at the highest level but he can’t get a simple job and pay his own way? Not to mention Olympians get paid handsomely anyway. He shouldn’t be claiming ANYTHING from the state. I think this basically comes down to either greed or having been coddled all his life so he expects the government to continue coddling him forever at the expense of the hard working tax-payer.

    • Utterly ridiculous and narrow-minded comment. DLA and PIP are for the extra costs that disabled people face – including Paralympians – and are available for those on high, medium and low incomes.

      • Lesley Barrett

        Until someone walks in a disabled persons shoes, no pun intended, they don’t know what peoples needs are. I am sick of all this judgemental attitude, its not ok to be racist or sexist, but its ok to knock those who are disabled, i am disabled and sick of peoples opinions on the sick only 3% are fraudulent, but the government wants everybody to have no help, and people die daily from being unable to cope. I am proud of our olympians they have proved to people that through their tenacity and positivity they have faith enough to become the best they can be where most complete individuals can’t even achieve their potential. The assumptions we have just heard that they are rich etc, just proves how judgmental and ill informed, pun is intended, that many cause emotional distress, filled with bile, bitterness and jealousy, thinking we all are getting more than we need, more than they have, i would swap my disablement any day with someone who is fit and able, so long as i can keep my intellect, empathy and compassion.

        • Sylvia May

          Actually, Lesley, I have noticed recently that it’s also fine to be racist. And no, less than 0.5% of claims are actually fraudulent, so it’s worse than you think. I too am very proud of all our olympians, disabled or otherwise, and I am equally disgusted at the judgmental attitudes of people who a) don’t understand disability and b) don’t understand the awful benefits system. But we have to place the responsibility for these outrageous opinions directly at the feet of the government and the mainstream press, who would have us believe that every claimant, disabled or otherwise, is out to cheat the system. This suits their purpose, to pare down the welfare state whilst allowing their buddies to conceal taxes in havens without challenge. Unless we can press for fair reporting and fair collection of taxes, unless we can press for a fairer benefits system all round (and that means the amounts paid, monies given to people without the awful testing systems, and a better attitude from the staff dealing with these things), we cannot hope for things to improve. TimmyTomTom above may be a troll who knows better but likes to cause trouble. Unfortunately this is the message the government would have us believe. And no, I am not disabled myself, but I worked in advice for 23 years.

          • Lesley Barrett

            Thanks for clarifying those few points Silvia, I would like to mention to others that also the mental toll of being permanently in pain and feeling useless after being so motivated and busy, and where people you used to socialise with have fallen by the wayside because you can offer them nothing that stimulates them only to be a burden as they have no idea how to change things because that is how they feel and what they want to do. They say they want the old Les back, the one who enjoyed life, who travelled, who would go on walking trips, who loved her plants and nurtured her garden, they want not to see the pain etched on my face and to make the lovely dinners i used to enjoy doing as this showed my love for them. Being unable to cope because of it being overwhelming to have 3 boisterous grandchildren enjoying life as children do because it is too stressful.Being unable to move nearer to my family or visit them, have no help from them as my 2 sons live so far away. Being unable to go swimming and keeping fit. Having to pay for new mattresses as my pain is so bad as i need to be cosseted more than most. being allergic to my little dog which i never was, she is now 14 and i am having to have her put down, because i cannot fulfil her needs anymore and no one wants an old dog.Do you know how tiring it is for the body to shake constantly as i have Parkinsons. you sit and you shake and see how tired your muscles become. You live with the constant fear for 4 years that your car is going to be taken away, that you will become housebound, and your scooter and walker is too big to fit in your small hall so your small pleasures will be taken away. try out of a basic pension paying for incontinence pads, scooter batteries, creams for your paper thin skin because my disease has stripped me of collagen and doctors now have a budget and say if on DLA you can afford them and that’s right i do. i need someone to clean my house and make my bed as i cannot, i have a chiropodist as cannot bend and have problems with my feed at 35 pounds a month, Cannot shop for clothes, the stress of doing it online and they don’t fit.. who takes them back to the post offices?. i cannot hold heavy pans so don’t cook anymore, so buy ready made foods and have them delivered which are less than ideal for good health and more expensive. I could go on and on. And lastly they can still take my DLA away when i get assessed which will happen before 2017. Many people have no idea the obstacles and traumas people face, And if you think you can do it, be careful life has a funny way of educating people in the worst way. Sorry this post is so long, it could have been longer trust me. But what price and time do you put on educating people?

          • Pyx

            I wish people didn’t have to go through what you are, hope you can find some extra support.

            Only thing I can add to help is that some catalogues offer free collection from the door for returns – I shop with Fashion World and they offer this, so it might be worth finding out if others do to. Because the catalogue I use offers this I can order a couple of sizes if I’m not sure of the fit and return what doesn’t fit without having to worry about leaving the house.

          • Cardinal Biggles

            MPs should aspire to that low level of fraud.

    • If I had free choice, I could choose to buy a Smart car and use it to commute to work. But I have a wheelchair & equipment so that choice is not available to me. I have to have a bigger car to be able to carry the equipment I need to get around. This is an extra cost of being disabled. I have no choice but to buy the more expensive option.

      Can you mow your own lawn, paint your own walls, walk to the shops to buy a paper, even walk to the nearest bus stop? These are all things I cannot do because of my disability. I have to do without a lawn, hire a decorator, drive a car. These are not choices but something I have to do at extra cost purely because I am disabled.

      I work, I pay tax and NI. I get back less than I pay in the form of DLA but I couldn’t work without my car, so the government, and hence you would make a net loss by taking my car away. I’d be sat at home, useless and not earning anything. Claiming benefits and not paying tax. Where’s the logic in that?

      How much I or any other person earns is irrelevant.

      • TimmyTomTom

        How does someone who can whizz around a racetrack claim benefits for lack of mobility with a straight face?

        • Because those benefits are for the cost of providing him with that mobility ie a wheelchair or a car (because of the inaccessibility of other forms of transport). I suspect you know this already and are just causing mischief…

        • Francesca Stout

          Do you think that a disabled person can afford their own customised wheelchair, plus all the adaptations that they need for their cars, homes etc?

        • race track whizzing isn’t the hard part…. flat surface, sports chair, trainers etc. the hard part is getting in and out of car, transporting equipment, accessing buildings, needing adapted vehicle.

        • Cardinal Biggles


          Ive paid my dues for 43 years. That’s higher rate tax and national INSURANCE.

          Now people need to claim on that insurance the thieving gits in the DWP are reneging on the deal. They’ve had my money. They want to keep it when I need it.

        • Gordon Palmer

          I think the best thing you can do is shut up. Sad to think there are clueless morons like you running loose.

    • The Illuminati

      In fact, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) does not pay athletes a cent for their appearance in the Olympics. Athletes have to fund their way either from sponsorship or direct funding from endorsement deals, these are very, very few and far between when it comes to the Paralympics. So everything you said was totally wrong, bet you feel like a fool, right?.

    • Donna Keedwell

      Not one bit of your comment makes sense. Firstly – PiP and DLA are not means tested, you can work full time and still receive them so your point about working and “paying his own way” is irrelevant. Secondly – Olympians DO NOT paid. I have no idea why you think they do … it’s kind of a key thing about the olympics. *If* they did get paid though – he would be a “hard working tax-payer”. Lastly – “Coddled” people do not have the determination to become athletes.

    • Cardinal Biggles

      Timmy, sorry, mate, but you are a bigoted moron.

    • Will Butts

      TimmyTomTom – I hope you aren’t able to breed. The world needs to be rid of you and your gene pool. You disgusting, moronic, ignorant bigot.

  • Charlotte Mills-Murray

    Not that I agree they should be loosing their cars. However, I wish news articles would report the fact that whilst still flawed there is the governments Access to Work scheme which can help with the cost of an adapted vehicle or travel costs for disabled people who work. Therefore if not eligible for motability or if adaptations are too expensive on motability many people like myself also use Access to Work.

    • But does Access to Work help with the extra costs of disability in the home and in other areas of independent living? I think you’re at risk here of playing into the hands of an austerity-driven government…

      • Donna Keedwell

        The motability component of PiP isn’t for the extra costs of disability – that’s what the daily living component is for.

        • Yes it is, Donna, it’s for the extra mobility-related costs of disability.

          • Donna Keedwell

            You said “extra costs of disability in the home and in other areas of independent living” – i.e. the non-mobility related part of it. If someone is getting help from the access to work scheme that is helping with the mobility side of things.

          • Francesca Stout

            What about disabled people who can’t work, who are having their mobility component taken away, despite not being able to walk more than 50ft?

          • Cardinal Biggles

            What do you think “other areas of independent living” means?


  • Suqsid123

    This appears to be a non-story. Neither of the Paralympians in the photo have been denied their mobility allowance — they haven’t even been reassessed as to their continued entitlement. No Paralympian has been named as having had their mobility allowance taken away. All we have is claim by Rowlings that he ‘knows’ of some who have lost their motability cars but refuses to name anyone. Even if true, it is very unlikely that they would be wheelchair-bound Paralympians.

    • PageMonster

      It IS a story! People are losing quality of life because of these fascists.

  • Paul,

    I will be 68 years old in January, and have nervous wreck
    ever since October budget in 2010, when Osborne said everyone from the age of
    16 to 64, would have to undergo more medical tests.

    They don’t give a monkey for people’s feelings or emotions’ Osborne,
    has now moved on earning £50,000 per night as an after speaker. It says a lot
    about these people who lay the laws for UK one law for us and another one for

    • Dannie

      I hear you Paul. Ive just been through a terrible time with PIP/ATOS.
      They just dont care.

    • Will Butts

      Paul – as someone now aged over 65 you are exempt from re-assessment if you are in receipt of the mobility component of DLA. You will continue to receive DLA in the same way UNLESS you report a change of circumstances.

      • Lesley Barrett

        Unfortunately only those who were born 1948 will get DLA everyone else will have to stand trial for PIP.
        CAB states..
        You’ll carry on getting DLA if you were 65 or over on 8 April 2013. For everyone else aged 16 and over, DLA will stop and you’ll need to claim PIP instead – even if you have a ‘lifetime’ or ‘indefinite’ award for DLA. It confuses everyone but i am right. Been through all this on another site.

  • Colin

    If someone cannot stand up or walk for 10 metres, they are not going to lose their cars under DLA or PIP rules. This is a complete non-story.

    • starlaeuropa

      Wrong – they changed the rules some time ago! Now they class being able to move, using aids (crutches, wheelchairs, ect) the same as being able to walk unassisted – this is how they were able to refuse me mobility, despite needing crutches to be able to walk! PIP is rotten to the core, and was NEVER about helping people to be independent (quite the opposite, in fact).

    • You’re wrong, I’m afraid, Colin. Firstly about the 10 metres (it’s 20 metres) but also because, I believe, both Hannah and Ben can walk a short distance, although with some difficulty, so it’s likely to be left to their assessor’s judgment. And we know what that means…

      • tom warner

        They certainly wouldn’t get ESA they would say they are fit for work

        I personally don’t think the paralympics helped other disabled peoples causes , because the corrupt ATOS Crapita will expect everyone who has mobility issues to be an athlete

  • Karen Crosby

    We appealed my brain damaged husband s pip . The atos nurse ignored most of the evidence Inc his employed carer being present. On appeal he went from 2points to 22 it was commented that the assessment was not true to his condition as he was in the appeal let alone how he had been at time of assessment. They assess u as being independent if u use an aid

  • SUDOisEvil

    If you earn enough to get a car for yourself, motability should not apply. If Alan Sugar were disabled, should he get a subsided car? This is a non-story.

    • PageMonster

      It is very much a story!

    • Nic

      That article’s pure speculation, and from four years ago, to boot!

      Even IF they were correct about the earning potential of a tiny number of star Para-athletes (what, less than 10 out of about 260 in the UK team?), the media buzz would die down as the months pass, and para-athletes have less competitions to be active in than able-bodied athletes, so less chance to earn prize money, and less attractive to commercial sponsors. And we all know that savings run low very quickly when there’s no money coming in.

  • Dannie

    Im delighted to add that after taking Atos/Pip and DWP to tribunal the judge threw out their assesment and based their decision on the evidence I provided. I won hands down. The judge was not amused, with Atos/dwp, at the waste of time caused by their original assessment and that my benefits should never have been downgraded. Basicaly she gave them a massive ticking off.

    Two weeks ago I was able to finaly get outside and feel fresh air on my face because id fonaly been able to get a motorised wheelchair through the Motability I was now onve again able to claim.

    Keep fighting. Dont give up. Its horrendous that we are having to fight for our mode of transport, whether that be a basic wheelchair or modified car, but we have been forced into a horrible position by an empathyless government.
    Dont let ATOS be the first class bullies they are paid to be. Fight back. Drag them to tribunal.
    Check out the local charities that help people do just that!