A disabled woman says she feels pressured to hand back her Motability vehicle, after the government’s Access to Work (AtW) scheme told her it will continue to pay her travel expenses to work if she does so.
Pauline McGuigan, from Dunbartonshire, said the suggestion from AtW “makes absolutely no sense”, but that she will probably be forced to accept it so she can keep working.
She works three days a week for a large insurance company – a job she has had for nearly 20 years – and uses AtW funding to pay for her daily taxi journeys to and from work.
Last week, Disability News Service reported that AtW threatened to stop paying the £90-a-day for taxis she needs to get to work – she contributes £5-a-day herself – because she has a Motability vehicle and should use that instead.
McGuigan has told AtW that she cannot access the car in her power-chair, and has no-one who can drive her to work and collect her at the end of the day.
She doesn’t drive herself, because she has no use of her legs and limited use of her arms, and cannot use a personal assistant to drive her to work because she needs the powerchair, while she has been told the car cannot be converted to allow her to travel in her powerchair.
She and her partner currently use the Motability car at the weekends, when he is available to push her in a manual wheelchair, which can be carried in the car.
But this week, AtW told her it would continue to fund her taxis to and from work if she returned her car to Motability.
She is set to accept AtW’s suggestion.
She said: “It is the only option that I have got that I can still keep my job, so that is what we are going to do. We will have to get a cab at the weekends.
“I can’t get my head around the whole thing.”
She said Motability had been “really, really good” and had agreed not to charge her for ending her contract early.
She has not ruled out applying for a grant from Motability in the future to try to lease a wheelchair-accessible vehicle that can take her power-chair, but because she and her partner both work, she thinks it unlikely that they would be successful with such an application.
Now their only option is to take out a loan to buy a car, a solution that is likely to be far more expensive than the Motability option, which was designed specifically for disabled people.
A DWP spokesman said they did not want her to have to return her Motability vehicle, and that they had offered a number of solutions to the problem, including obtaining a similar Motability vehicle to her current car, which could be adapted to take her power-chair.
He said: “At no point have we encouraged Ms McGuigan to hand back her Motability vehicle.
“We want to provide Ms McGuigan with the freedom of a car and her local Motability supplier can offer a similar vehicle to the one she has now which can be adapted for her specific needs.”
DWP said that AtW had to support the most “cost-effective” solutions for its customers, that no final decisions had been taken on her award and that it was continuing “to explore all options for the best solution”.