More than 100 disabled people every week are losing their Motability vehicles after being assessed for the government’s new disability benefit the charity has confirmed.
The figures appears to confirm fears that the replacement of working-age disability living allowance with the new personal independence payment (PIP) would see at least 100, 000 disabled people lose their Motability car.
Some estimates have suggested that as many as 180,000 DLA claimants could eventually be forced to give up their Motability vehicles after being reassessed for PIP.
Only those qualifying for the enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP – or the higher rate of the mobility component of DLA – are entitled to obtain a car through the Motability scheme.
Although the process of reassessing about two million working-age DLA claimants for PIP has been delayed, the speed of the programme is now picking up.
Of the 8,000 Motability customers who have been reassessed for their PIP eligibility so far, 3,000 have lost their entitlement to be on the scheme and have been told to hand their vehicles back.
These figures, first obtained and broadcast this week by ITV News, have been confirmed by Motability.
A Motability spokeswoman said: “We are currently seeing over 100 customers losing eligibility each week.
“Whilst the initial implementation of PIP during 2013 and 2014 has been slower than originally anticipated, this rate has increased over recent months as the reassessment rollout has been extended by DWP to additional areas across GB.”
She said it was “still too early” to predict accurately the number of customers who would lose their Motability vehicles.
Motability has previously suggested that about 360,000 of its customers will eventually be reassessed for PIP.
If three out of every eight of these customers lose their eligibility, the number forced to hand back their Motability vehicles could reach 135,000.
The Motability spokeswoman said: “As we are only a small percentage of the way through the reassessment process and it is impossible to know how it will unfold over the next five years, it is too early to accurately predict the number of customers who will lose their Motability vehicles as a result of the transition to PIP.
“The estimate of 100,000 is in line with scheme forecasts. However, Motability is prepared for a range of scenarios above and below this number.”
Motability won praise 18 months ago after it announced – as part of a package of measures – that it would hand £2,000 to every disabled person who had their vehicle taken away after being reassessed for PIP and had joined the scheme before January 2013.
The spokeswoman said: “Motability has already provided some £6 million for this transitional support and the number of customers affected will unquestionably increase during the coming months, as the pace of DWP reassessments accelerates.
“Early research from recipients of the transitional support package shows that customers are appreciative of the level of support provided and that it has helped them to remain mobile without their Motability car, in many cases by purchasing a used car.”
Asked if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) agreed with the Disability News Service estimate of 135,000 and was comfortable with this number of people losing their Motability vehicles, a DWP spokesman said: “By the end of January 2015, over 103,000 new claimants had been awarded PIP enhanced rate mobility.
“In addition, over 26,000 people previously in receipt of DLA were awarded the enhanced rate of mobility having been reassessed under PIP.
“We have worked closely with Motability to ensure that support is available to people leaving the scheme following PIP reassessment.
“Motability have agreed that the majority of people will be eligible for a one-off payment of £2,000, which will help ensure their mobility needs continue to be met.”
Pictured is Motability customer Harry Westnage (who is not affected by the PIP reforms) receiving the keys to his new Motability vehicle from Labour MP Gordon Marsden on 13 March