A Change in Disability Benefits
In 2013, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was changed to Personal Independent Payments (PIP) and this also brought about a change in the assessment process. In order to qualify for the higher level of the mobility Disability Benefits payment – which is needed to lease a Motability automobile – the person must be unable to walk 20 metres without aid (among other criteria. Under DLA, individuals would have to walk 50 metres unaided.
Stripped of Independence
This has resulted in 51,000 people having their PIP award and vehicle taken away from them. This could be an adapted vehicle, a scooter or powered wheelchair. Having an adapted vehicle from a company like Allied Mobility is incredibly important for many disabled people as it provides them with a great deal of independence. By being able to drive, or be driven, in an adapted vehicle, these individuals are able to socialize, work, shop and plenty more.
Over 3,000 people have rejoined the PIP scheme after the initial decision was overturned, but this has still left them without an automobile in some cases. Muscular Dystrophy UK now claim that as a result of more and more people being rejected for PIP, over 900 automobiles are being taken away from people every single week.
Consequently, many individuals are now calling for a change to the Motability programme. This is in the hope that those now leasing an adapted vehicle, scooter or powered wheelchair will not have it taken away before they have had a chance to appeal the PIP decision.
The Motability Scheme
The Motability Scheme was founded in 1977 and is a partnership between the UK Government, leading banks, motor and insurance industries and the charitable sector. It is designed to enable those with a disability to lease an automobile with their government-funded mobility allowance. There have been over 3 million vehicles provided and now there are over 650,000 customers.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) state that those taken off the Motability Scheme are eligible for £2,000 support, but the vehicle is taken away during the appeal process. This is very damaging as around 65% of those that appeal the original rejection have the decision overturned in their favour. In addition to showing that the system is not working, this has also led many disabled people to lose their jobs as they are unable to get to work.
The Future for Disability Benefits
A DWP spokesperson has said that they are constantly reviewing their processes, but Muscular Dystrophy UK are calling for the DWP to reverse the change in rules. If the appeal was successful, they also want PIP arrears to be paid in full plus the ability to rejoin Motability straight away if they return the support money (or return within 6 months of when they left the scheme).