A DISABLED woman who was living in fear of deepening depression after her Motability car was taken away is to have her vehicle returned, following the support of The National and its readers.
Anne Meikle, who lives in Philpstoun near Linlithgow, West Lothian, with her husband — and driver — Raymond, told The National she received the news in a phone call from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on Tuesday morning: “It was an absolute shock. Once it sunk in I was on cloud nine and I’m still there.
“I thought it was a sales cold call and I was ready for that at nine o’clock in the morning, but it turned out to be a very nice man who said he was from the DWP.
“He checked that he had the right details, then he told me the call was about a letter of reconsideration — which I’d sent after The National article — for my enhanced personal independence payment (PIP).
“I thought he was phoning to say I’d been unsuccessful, but he said he wanted to go over a few things, and then he said ‘I’m glad to tell you we’ve decided to renew your enhanced payment’.
“I threw the phone up in the air and burst out crying — and through the tears I managed to thank him.”
Anne received her first Motability car nearly 10 years ago when she was receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
However, she had to return her latest vehicle last year after being assessed for its replacement PIP and being told she did not have enough points to qualify for the higher mobility payment, despite suffering from several debilitating conditions.
We told last month how the 68-year-old has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which affects her breathing, and arthritis. A series of mini-strokes has left her weakened down one side of her body, and she is partially blind in her left eye through encephalitis.
She has also gone through operations on both her knees, her upper body has been weakened after radiotherapy treatment for cancer and she is prone to dizziness and collapsing.
After our first article appeared, Anne decided that she would write to the DWP after taking heart from some of our readers’ comments online.
“I wasn’t going to do anything else about the refusal, then The National published the story and I had a lot of positive response to it — and I’d really like to thank the people who commented.
“I had been sinking into depression, so I decided I would try to fight the decision and wrote a letter of ‘reconsideration’ to the DWP.
“In a way it was a begging letter. I had become so depressed at being virtually housebound and so ‘within myself’ since being refused the car, so I thought I would tell it how it is. I had nothing to lose.
“The response to your article made me think there are people out there who are on my side. So I wrote the letter asking them to reconsider because of the illnesses, the depression and so on.”
Aside from the online response to her case, Anne said her local community had also rallied round, with everyone on her side.
“There has been no negativity about what happened,” she said. “A lot of people have turned round and said ‘that’s not fair, you really deserve it yet we see people around that don’t and are swinging the lead and getting away with it’.
“I’ve had nobody with a negative comment towards me. I’ve been in my wheelchair in the supermarket and people have come over and asked if I’m alright and if I need any help.”
More than 900 people are returning their Motability cars every week and since the switch from DLA to PIP, 51,000 have lost access to their vehicles.
Around 126,000 of the 254,000 people who were eligible for funding under DLA and were reassessed for PIP by the end of October last year have lost access to it.
Of the relatively small number of appeals against the loss of funding (seven per cent), the majority (65 per cent) have won their case, demonstrating the failures in how cuts have been made.
According to the DWP, when one of their decisions has been overturned, it is often because the claimant has provided more evidence.
The DWP’s letter of verification, confirming that Anne is entitled to the enhanced payment for PIP arrived yesterday morning and she expects to be mobile again in around a month.
She would like to see her previous car returned, but added: “I think it’s as if we’ve never had a Motability car before and we’ll have to go to the showroom, pick a car and wait for around a month for it to be ordered and prepared.
“I’d be happy to get my old car back — I’d actually become quite fond of her.”