A terminally ill woman has been informed by the Department of Work and Pensions that the mobility car she relies on as her “legs” is being taken away, following an assessment at her home.
Marie Piles, 34, from Port Talbot, is unable to walk around the room without running out of breath and needs to carry up to four oxygen tanks with her whenever she leaves the house in case her oxygen levels drop, she told Wales Online. She will be left “housebound” if the car is taken, she said.
“I don’t feel safe on my own and I rely on the car for everything such as going back and forth to hospital appointments. Basically it’s my legs,” she said.
Ms Piles had previously suffered from Pulmonary Fibrosis and Polymyosis, leaving her reliant on oxygen tanks to be able to breathe and a mobility scooter to get around. In 2013 she had a lung transplant but was told in September last year her body is now rejecting the organ and further surgery is not an option.
Following the news, friends of Ms Piles and her partner Sean Piles, 30, helped to raise enough money to pay for their wedding and for a short honeymoon at a cottage in Cardigan.
The couple returned home to find a letter from the DWP stating Ms Piles would no longer be entitled to her mobility car following an assessment that had taken place at her home.
Mr Piles called taking away a mobility car from someone who is terminally ill a “disgrace”.
7 ways the Tories have ‘helped’ disabled people
7 ways the Tories have ‘helped’ disabled people
1/7 Closing Remploy factories
The Work and Pensions Secretary called time on Britain’s system of Remploy factories, which provided subsidised and sheltered employment to disabled people. People employed at the factories protested against their closure and said they provided gainful work. “Is it a kindness to stick people in some factory where they are not doing any work at all? Just making cups of coffee?” Mr Duncan Smith said at the time, defending the decision. “I promise you this is better.” The Remploy organisation was privatised and sold to American workfare provider Maximus, with the majority of the organisation’s factories closed. The future of the remaining sites is unclear
2/7 Scrapping the Independent Living Fund
The £320m Independent Living Fund was established in 1988 to give financial support to people with disabilities. It was scrapped on July 1 2015, with 18,000 often severely disabled people losing out by an average of £300 a week. The money was generally used to help pay for carers so people could live in communities rather than institutions. Councils will get a boost in funding to compensate but it will not cover the whole cost of the fund. This new cash also doesn’t have to be spent on the disabled
3/7 Cut payments for the disabled Access To Work scheme
Iain Duncan Smith is bringing forward a policy that will reduce payments to some disabled people from a scheme designed to help them into work. The £108m scheme, which helps 35,540 people, will be capped on a per-used basis, potentially hitting those with the more serious disabilities who currently receive the most help. The single biggest users of the fund are people who have difficulty seeing and hearing. The cut will come in from October 2015. The charity Disability UK says the scheme actually makes the Government money because the people who gain access to work tend pay tax that more than covers its cost. The DWP does not describe the reduction as a “cut” and says it will be able to spread the money more thinly and cover more people
4/7 Cut Employment and Support Allowance
The latest Budget included a £30 a week cut in disability benefits for some new claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The Government says it is equalising the rate of disability benefits with Jobseekers Allowance because giving disabled people more help is a “perverse incentive”. The people affected by this cut are those assessed as having a limited capability for work but as being capable of some “work-related activity”. A group of prominent Catholics wrote to Mr Duncan Smith to say there was “no justification” for this cut. Mental health charity Mind, said the cut was “insulting and misguided”
5/7 Risk homelessness with a sharp increase disability benefit sanctions
Official figures in the first quarter of 2014 found a huge increase in sanctions against people reliant on ESA sickness benefit. The 15,955 sanctions were handed out in that period compared to 3,574 in the same period the year before, 2013 – a 4.5 times increase. The homelessness charity Crisis warned at the time that the sharp rise in temporary benefit cuts was “cruel and can leave people utterly destitute – without money even for food and at severe risk of homelessness”. “It is difficult to see how they are meant to help people prepare for work,” Matt Downie, director of policy at the charity added
6/7 Sending sick people to work because of broken fitness to work tests
In 2012 a government advisor appointed to review the Government’s Work Capability Assessment said the tests causing suffering by sending sick people back to work inappropriately. “There are certainly areas where it's still not working and I am sorry there are people going through a system which I think still needs improvement,” Professor Malcolm Harrington concluded. The tests are said to have improved since then, but as recently as this summer they are still coming in for criticism. In June the British Psychological Society said there was “now significant body of evidence that the WCA is failing to assess people’s fitness for work accurately and appropriately”. It called for a full overhaul of the way the tests are carried out. The WCA appeals system has also been fraught with controversy with a very high rate of overturns and delays lasting months and blamed for hardship
7/7 The bedroom tax
The Government’s benefit cut for people who it says are “under-occupying” their homes disproportionately affects disabled people. Statistics released last year show that around two-thirds of those affected by the under-occupancy penalty, widely known as the ‘bedroom tax’, are disabled. There have been a number of high profile cases of disabled people being moved out of specially adapted homes by the policy. In one case publicised by the Sunday People last week, a 48 year old man with cerebral palsy was forced to bathe in a paddling pool after the tax moved him out of his home with a walk-in shower. The Government says it has provided councils with a discretionary fund to help reduce the policy’s impact on disabled people, but cases continue to arise
“What really angers me is the fact she has little independence left and what she’s got left they’re taking away. She doesn’t like asking for help off me or anyone,” he told Wales Online.
Ms Piles is appealing the decision.
It is the latest in a string of cases in which disabled people have been told they will lose their vital mobility vehicles following DWP assessments.
In January this year Jenni Dodd in Crewe, who has paralysis down her left side and suffers from dystonia which causes her muscles to spasm, was told that despite needing help for simple tasks such as dressing each morning her specially adapted mobility car will be taken away, the Crewe Chronicle reported.
In December, Denise Haddon, who has bilateral femoral focal dysplasia and cannot walk more than 20 metres without suffering severe pain, was told she will be losing the mobility car that allows her to do her job, the Mirror reported.
A spokesman from the DWP said: “Decisions on eligibility for Personal Independence Payment are made after consideration of all the evidence, including an assessment and information provided by the claimant and their GP.
“The majority of people leaving the Motability scheme will be eligible for a one-off payment of £2,000, which will help ensure their mobility needs continue to be met.”Reuse content