In addition to the general anxiety surrounding the move from DLA to PIP after the confusion about likely government cuts, Helen Dolphin says many disabled people also face the reality of losing something vital to their mobility and independence.
Like many disabled people I am anxiously awaiting the day when I get a letter from Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) telling me that I can no longer receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and need to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). One of my greatest concerns is should I score less than 10 points on the “moving about” criteria I will have to part with my Motability vehicle. Having read the assessment criteria for the PIP mobility component I think I should still qualify (I am a quadruple amputee) but I have read so many stories online and in the press about seriously disabled people losing their vehicles that it is certainly not something I would be confident about.
Currently about 400 Motability customers a week are losing their vehicles because of being assessed for PIP. Of all these people three quarters now get the standard rate of mobility (so cannot qualify for the Motability scheme) and one quarter were awarded nothing. However, on appeal one in 10 was successful in upgrading their original award.
Recently Motability commissioned some research to obtain feedback on the process of leaving the scheme, the impact of their Transition Support Payment (TSP) – former customers are awarded up to £2,000 – and whether those customers who have left have been able to maintain a decent level of mobility.
Sadly the results show that two thirds of people who had to leave the scheme have indicated deterioration in their mobility and 12% rated their mobility now as very low. This may be because some people losing their Motability vehicle will only be able to walk just over 20 metres so even getting to the bus stop would be impossible without a wheelchair. However, what is significant is that four out of five people who bought or leased a car after leaving the scheme purchased it using the TSP from Motability. I therefore wonder what people’s mobility will be like a few years down the line when the car needs replacing and there is no TSP to help.
When asked if given the opportunity would they re-join the scheme most people said they would. However, the primary reason for people not wishing to re-join the scheme in the future was the emotional turmoil related to the possibility of losing the car again. This shows just what a stressful and upsetting experience it can be in spite of everything Motability has done to make it as easy as possible.
I am also concerned for those people who will now because of PIP never have the opportunity to join Motability and access all the scheme benefits. When I think back to how I got back behind a wheel after becoming disabled I really don’t think it would have happened if it hadn’t been for the support I was given from Motability. After all it was Motability who sent me to the Forum of Mobility centres to find out what adaptations I needed, then they told me where I could get them done and arranged everything for me. As a newly disabled person I really didn’t have a clue. In addition, had I not had my driving licence, Motability would have funded my driving lessons.
The research carried out by Motability shows what I was expecting that people’s mobility has been affected by the loss of their vehicle although I am concerned that the true extent will not really become apparent for several more years. In the meantime I like many other disabled people will continue to wait for the dreaded letter to drop through the post.