Benefits Rule Change Forces Up To 500 Persons With Disabilities To Give Vehicles Back Every Week

The 50 Metre Ability To Walk Rule Has Been Cut By More Than Half


Saffron Otter, Press Officer | 0114 276 4666

Public law experts at Irwin Mitchell say disabled people will fear losing their independence after a new benefits rule forces up to 500 disabled people every week to give back their vehicles that help them stay independent.

The Government ‘Motability’ scheme under the Personal Independent Payments (PIP) system allows disabled people to lease electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and cars, often with extensive adaptations. 

But according to a leading charity, between 400 and 500 people have been forced to hand back their vehicles after a new controversial ‘20-metre rule’ was introduced within PIP assessments. 

To qualify under the new PIP system, a person must not be able to walk for 20 metres – less than half of the previous 50 metre limit in force by the Department for Work and Pensions. 

The report by charity Muscular Dystrophy UK also said that people living with disabilities suffered serious delays in getting their benefits – with one in five having to wait more than six months for an appointment to assess their eligibility. 

The charity predicts that 35,000 disabled people are expected to have lost their vehicles by the end of this year. 

PIP uses a points system to evaluate how heavily a person’s disability affects their life - the higher the points, the higher the benefits award. 

Caroline Barrett, public law expert at Irwin Mitchell, who is looking into a number of PIP related legal challenges on behalf of affected clients, said: 

Expert Opinion
“The government has stated in recent years that its policy is to help disabled people become more independent. However, despite numerous measures having been implemented through legislation such as the Care Act 2014 to increase disabled people’s access to the community, it is very disappointing to see that benefit changes are having the opposite effect.

“The effects of having an adapted vehicle withdrawn are significant – we are aware of clients who have lost their jobs and subsequently their ability to live in their own home, after having their vehicle taken away.

“The government is currently carrying out a review of the PIP scheme, due to be completed in 2017. As part of that review we hope the government will reconsider whether it is rational to continue with such changes when they may result in individuals relying more heavily on social services when their vehicles are withdrawn.

“We are also aware that benefits claimants are having Motability vehicles withdrawn from them even pending an appeal of their assessment. Such an approach is concerning given the current high success rate of appeals against the PIP assessments – the cost of adapting new vehicles from scratch following a successful appeal is likely to be considerable.”

Caroline Barrett, Solicitor