Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, has today tackled the Prime Minister about the number of disabled people losing their independence as a result of the Government’s benefit changes since 2013.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons, Catherine raised the case of her constituent, William Bradney, who has recently been told he is no longer eligible for a Motability vehicle despite a lifelong disability caused by contracting polio as an infant.
The Motability scheme helps disabled people to be independent by enabling them to exchange their mobility allowance to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair. Previously, people in receipt of the highest rate of the ‘mobility component’ of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) were eligible for the Motability scheme.
However, following welfare reforms which replaced DLA with the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in April 2013, new and existing claimants must now undergo a new assessment and figures uncovered by the BBC last month revealed that almost 14,000 people with disabilities had lost their Motability vehicles as a result.
Catherine asked the Prime Minister:
‘In 1949, aged 11 months, my constituent William Bradney was diagnosed with polio.
‘He has worked from the age of 15, and he continues to work at 67.
‘But following a clearly flawed PIP assessment, he’s set to lose his Motability car, potentially within three weeks. He says it will leave him unable to leave the house and unable to work.
‘Will the Prime Minister urgently review his case, and the cases of 14,000 disabled people who’ve lost this essential lifeline?’
And speaking after Prime Minister’s Questions, Catherine said:
‘I’m pleased the Prime Minister has agreed to look into my constituent’s case as a matter of urgency – and this really is urgent as Mr Bradney faces losing his car within the next three weeks.
‘But the Government’s changes have hit many thousands of disabled people across the country and there’s a cruel irony in renaming this benefit ‘Personal Independence Payment’ when it’s actually resulted in thousands of people not being able work, or even leave their house, as a result of their Motability lifeline being taken away.
‘It’s just outrageous that Mr Bradney, who values his independence and is still working at the age of 67, now faces losing all of this a result of what is clearly a flawed PIP assessment process.
‘And, whilst the Government frequently claims the change to PIP is not about cutting support for disabled people, they also have clearly stated they hope to save £2billion as a result. It cannot be both.’