By John Pring Disability News Service 6th July 2017
More than half of those disabled people previously eligible for the Motability vehicle scheme have lost that eligibility after being reassessed for the government’s new disability benefit, according to a freedom of information response.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures show fewer than half (about 126,000) of the 254,000 people previously receiving the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) secured the same level of mobility support when reassessed for personal independence payment (PIP).
Of those reassessed between October 2013 and October 2016, about 65,000 had their entitlement reduced to the standard PIP mobility rate, and about 63,000 lost their entitlement to mobility support altogether.
Only those entitled to the enhanced rate of the PIP mobility component are entitled to join – or to continue to be a member of – the Motability scheme.
Although they were first published by DWP last December as part of a wider release of statistics, this appears to be the first time that they have been highlighted publicly.
DR UK pointed out that those who saw their mobility support fall from the higher to the standard rate after reassessment have lost £36 a week, while those who lost all mobility support have lost £58 per week.
DR UK said the “removal of Motability cars from disabled people who rely on them has devastated their independence, in many cases removed their ability to work and meant they are effectively housebound”.
Two months ago, figures highlighted by the disability charity Muscular Dystrophy UK showed that about 900 customers were having to return their Motability vehicles every week as a result of the PIP assessment process.
Ken Butler, DR UK’s welfare rights adviser, said: “The recent rule change that allows people to keep their Motability car whilst they appeal a PIP decision will help, but on its own is simply not the answer.
“The rule that confines higher mobility awards only to those who can walk up to 20 metres must be scrapped. It makes no sense and was only ever a cost-cutting measure.
“Instead, those awards must again include those disabled people who can only walk up to 50 metres, who are likely to have the same extra costs.
“DR UK has lobbied for this since before PIP was introduced in 2013. It is a universal call made by all other disabled people’s organisations and disability charities.
“Otherwise we will see many thousands of disabled people forced to stay at home with no prospect of employment or contributing to their community.”