Loss of woman’s Motability car ‘shows how vicious PIP reforms are’


A disabled woman has lost the car she relied on to attend vital hospital appointments, after the government decided she no longer needed higher level mobility support without bothering to carry out a face-to-face assessment of her needs.

Jo Jones (pictured), from Stockport, had her Motability vehicle removed today (Thursday) because of the decision to reduce the amount she receives for mobility support through the new personal independence payment (PIP).

Disabled activists said that her case demonstrated the impact of the government’s “vicious” social security reforms, its attempts to cut spending on disability benefits, and the impact of introducing PIP, particularly on those with mobility impairments.

Jones only began receiving PIP in April 2014, after having her leg amputated the previous year.

She was previously an accountant, but was dismissed from her job in June 2014 because she was not able to tell her employer when she would be able to return to work following health problems.

Due to diabetes, high blood pressure, neuropathy, asthma, depression, the amputation, and being prone to leg ulcers in her remaining leg, she was awarded the enhanced rate for both the mobility and daily living components, after a face-to-face assessment by government contractors.

She used the enhanced rate mobility component to lease a Motability vehicle, which she has been driving for the last year.

But 12 months after securing the PIP award she was told she was being reassessed. Two months later – without any further face-to-face assessment – the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) told her she no longer qualified for the enhanced mobility rate, and so would have to return her Motability car.

She asked DWP to reconsider its decision, in a process known as a “mandatory reconsideration”, which has to be carried out before she can appeal to a tribunal.

Just three days later she received a call from a DWP civil servant who confirmed that the reason she had lost her entitlement to the enhanced mobility rate was because she could walk between 20 and 50 metres without any pain.

Under disability living allowance (DLA) – which is being replaced by PIP for working-age claimants – someone is eligible for the higher rate if they cannot walk more than 50 metres, but under PIP this criteria has been cut to just 20 metres.

Jones insists that she cannot walk more than 20 metres without pain, and that a short walk also leaves her breathless, due to asthma.

She said: “I can get from my front door to my car and I get breathless. I can get across the road but I am out of breath.

“Even though I have a prosthetic limb I still get pain in my stump and in my remaining leg and in my lower back. NHS prosthetic limbs are metal, wood and plastic. I just don’t think they appreciate that.”

Soon after the call from DWP, she received a letter from Motability saying that it planned to reclaim her car on 6 August.

This morning (6 August), when her husband called DWP, he was told that, following the mandatory reconsideration, they were sticking by their decision. This afternoon, a representative from Motability reclaimed her car.

Because her husband does not drive and works all day, Jones said she would now find it almost impossible to leave the house.

She said she was furious at the decision and how she had been treated.

She said: “To be assessed without being seen, that is cost-cutting. They are making decisions about me and my condition without actually seeing me.

“I know I am not alone. I know there are people in a worse state than me who are losing their benefits.”

She added: “It’s going to make things incredibly difficult because I have to go to physio every week, I also have appointments at my GP and at the local hospital, and two counselling appointments a week.”

She can’t walk to the nearest bus stop, because it is too far, and can’t use public transport independently even if she could reach the bus stop.

She said: “I will just have to sit indoors all day. I sleep downstairs, my bathroom is downstairs. These four walls of my living room is it. We have a conservatory but to all intents and purposes this room is it.”

Government figures predict that, with the mobility criteria set at 20 metres, 548,000 of the 892,000 working-age people who were receiving the higher rate of the DLA mobility component in February 2013 will not receive the enhanced mobility rate of PIP once they are transferred to the new benefit.

Jones said: “It is an absolute disgrace. I have a friend whose cousin works for DWP. She goes home and cannot sleep because of the decisions she is being asked to make regarding people’s claims.”

She plans to appeal against the DWP decision, and if successful she will be able to apply for a new Motability vehicle.

Disabled campaigner and researcher Catherine Hale said: “This case proves that the Tories’ claim to be providing more support to the ‘most vulnerable’ via PIP is an outrageous lie.

“The DWP appears to be under pressure to remove support even from people with incontrovertible mobility impairments in order to reduce spending by the government’s 20 per cent target.

“As with the employment and support allowance fiasco, how much of these welfare ‘savings’ will be lost to the tribunal system as people with clear entitlements like Ms Jones fight for their right to simply leave their home?”

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “This case shows how vicious the change of criteria from being able to walk 50 metres down to only 20 metres actually is in reality and how that change can devastate someone’s life. 

“At the very least, some option should be in place to ensure that no-one’s vehicle is repossessed until the outcome of an appeal has been made so that disabled people do not wrongly suffer, and to make the best use of Motability’s apparently limited resources.”

Pat Onions, founder of Pat’s Petition, said: “If the government keep drawing the criteria for benefits tighter and tighter, then many individuals will lose support.

“This decision is appalling and we hope the decision can be reversed.

“But it is good that this case has been highlighted in the [media]and we hope that the public will realise how many more individual cases there are that don’t reach the [media].”

Michelle Maher, from the WOWcampaign, said the case was a “shocking indictment again of disabled people being penalised under a system that was designed to remove 500,000 from DLA/PIP”.

She said: “The fact it was done without even seeing the woman is even more worrying. But the government, without examining one person, said half a million would lose out under PIP, so we shouldn’t be surprised.

“Sick and disabled people are being punished for being something they had no part of, caught in an ideological attack by a Tory party determined to [remove]all forms of support.

“Somewhere along the line, disabled people became the vilified, the shirkers, when pain and disability can’t always be seen when walking 20 metres.”

Motability said that it provided support for customers who lost their vehicles in such situations, and allowed them to keep their car for seven weeks after they had been notified of the PIP or DLA decision.

Motability also sends them a booklet with information on buying a new or used car, insurance, tax, breakdown cover, servicing, maintenance, adaptations and other mobility options.

A Motability spokesman said: “Motability has no role in determining who should receive DLA or PIP; that is solely the responsibility of DWP.”

He added: “Customers are able to challenge if they disagree with the DWP decision, initially by asking DWP to reconsider their decision and then by appealing to HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

“However, DWP does not continue to make DLA or PIP payments while a decision is being challenged and the Motability Scheme is therefore not able to leave a vehicle with the customer.

“If their challenge is successful and the enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP is subsequently awarded, the customer will of course be eligible to re-join the scheme.”

DWP refused to comment.

  • User Ratings (52 Votes)
  • Alison

    same thing has just happened to me albeit after an atos assessment which was nothing but a fantasy by the paramedic who assessed me. My motability car was taken away from me after mandatory reconsideration then allowed me standard rate mobility. I was sent a £1000 compensation cheque from motabiloity to help towards some other means of getting mobile. I have cried and cried as i have even trid to walk to visit my daughter a couple of streets away but get no further than a few houses and cant get back ,indeed it is a four wall prison we are being kept in. I was glad of the compensation payment but ive spent 3 weeks online trying to find a cheap car and the insurance is three times the amount of the cheapest old banger out there! In effect you cant afford to get one nor afford the upkeep on a old banger that is prone to break down, When were faced with the real danger of being stranded by any atempt to get pout of the house it scary. you just avoid everything. You cant afford taxis to hospital or the gp or any rehabilitation . It is just anightmare. I went to appeal and was told by welfare rights, dont rock the boat everyone is losing nobody is winning, just take what you have and dont risk losing the lot as can occur. What is that? yu cant appeal because yhou may lose whatever theyve already awarded? They must have saved a ptetty mint knocking us off the high rate and stopping money during appeal, we cant live without this financial help , so reluctantly we go agasint our our fighting instinct for fear of not winning. it is depressing and i have felt suicidal at the thought of my life being so rubbish i knnow thousands of us feel the same, its so wrong

    • Di ane

      Alison, I respect that you are ill and don’t want to appeal, but, this is what the government wants, otherwise they will win.
      Please see someone about appealing, as they can’t be allowed to get away with this!
      PIP is going to be another atrocity, like the ATOS fit for work fiasco

    • TheSelfishAltruist

      You might be able to use the cheque towards a down payment on a car on credit. These days 1000 should get you a fairly decent car, like a Mondeo or something, if you buy privately. Getting from a dealer would come with a small warranty which can help. Insurance is a pain though, but if you get 3rd party or be a name driver on someone else’s insurance can save. Main determinant of insurance is your post code by the way and age.

      All a pain and more hassle, but be determined and you can get your own car. No one “needs” motability.. it just makes it easier. The car manufacturers benefit most from the scheme.

  • Di ane

    is it just me but has anyone else noticed that the DWP no longer try & defend themselves? This is the third article I have seen this week that has the below comment.

    ‘DWP refused to comment.’

    Not so long ago, they used to say:

    we have to make the system fair

    we have to save taxpayers’ money

    A through assessment was made and the “right” decision was made

    etc, etc etc

    Now they no longer try and make a defence.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg! Wait till they start on the lifetime awards of DLA!!!!

    • jan hamilton

      They refuse to comment now as they cannot defend the indefensable.

    • Hi Diane, it’s mainly because they are refusing to comment on DNS stories at present. Here’s a link that explains why: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/dwp-carries-out-threat-to-ban-questions-from-disability-news-service/

    • Caroline Beck

      i was on indefinatly award but lost my high mobility under new rules so lost my car . this country only supports others not its own people

    • Leon Carter

      Because they have no logical comment to make and thus the crass of there decisions is bewildering

    • Scream Nevermore

      Civil servants are as pissed off as the rest of us, so are not queueing up to defend the indefensible.

  • Caroline Beck

    i have also lost my car which i am devestated about but i will receive more money so i am doing a just pay fuel deal on a new car . i feel i should of been able to keep my high mobility but its only 2 questions so many many people will fail.

  • Jo Price

    Please appeal again Jo, do not give up… I wrote to the government to ask why they had changed the distance & was given so poor explanation but was told that ” Individuals who cannot walk more than 20 meters can be sure that they will receive the enhanced rate, regardless of whether they need an aid or appliance. Individuals who can walk more than 20 metres could still receive the enhanced rate depending on whether they can do so safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly & in a reasonable time period” so just walking a distance once is not enough to deny you the enhanced rate

  • TheSelfishAltruist

    Motability is a handy scheme, but can actually cost money if your insurance would normally be cheap. It’s good for younger drivers, but not so great for older ones who would pay cheap insurance anyway. If your credit is good you could buy a car and probably have less outgoings. Losing all of your mobility is a big whack on your income.

    • Pamela Stock

      There is no such thing as cheap car insurance (or any other kind for that matter) for disabled people. Insurers use the fact that you are disabled to charge more even if you have a good driving record. I am 58, suffer from Spina Bifida and have a no claims history with motability. I was given three quotes from high street insurers and not one of them was under £1000. Don’t really understand your post as insurance is included in the motability scheme monthly payment, as are all ongoing maintenance, servicing and repair costs.

  • graeme

    What about parking 1000 disabled claimants in wheelbarrows outside the Houses of Parliament that should show the Tories up but theyr’e such a perverse lot it would probably turn them on Welfare reform ? more like benefit stealing by the modern day Robin Hood’s in reverse

  • Craig Mann

    My dad has just gone all this today. He had to hand his car back today but the last few months have just caused so much unwanted and unneeded stress and has had a bad turn on his illness. My dad wishes to continue to work the few hours he is allowed as without it he will feel worthless. The loss of the car alone is making his condition worse. I have been given advice to write to the MP with out case as this is beyond unfair. My dad has only ever wanted to do the right thing and doesn’t not want any form of hand outs but without his mobility he really can’t continue with work without relying on others which he does not plan to start doing.

    I would love some advice on how we can come tougher and speak in numbers to get justice.