My name is Dave Gale. I have Becker Muscular Dystrophy, a muscle-wasting condition that severely impacts my mobility, and I need you to sign my PIP petition: https://www.change.org/p/minister-for-disabled-people-penny-mordaunt-mp-end-the-uncertainty-for-disabled-people-who-are-having-their-adapted-vehicles-taken-away
I need a car to get to my job 30 miles away to provide for my family. I can’t use a regular car because of my condition, but I have a government-funded Motability car that is adapted to my needs.
However, the government is in the process of reassessing all disabled people’s benefits, and when mine were assessed in 2016, they decided to take my car away.
On 11 October, I had to give my Motability vehicle back. I was devastated and lodged an appeal to get it back.
In the meantime, I had no choice but to use our family savings to buy a new adapted car in order to keep my job. Due not much strength in my legs I use a push pull leaver for breaks and accelerators and a 13 way infra-red lollipop for steering, indicators, wipers etc. The cost of these adaptations was close to £2000 mark. On top of that was the car itself, which was around £11,000 which I am currently paying off.
If I hadn’t had the savings, it would have caused great difficulty getting to work as I live 30 miles away from Carlisle.
The whole PIP claim took 9 months to resolve and a tribunal to decide the outcome. I now have a debt for the first time in my life. If I had lost the tribunal and then the car then fair enough, but to have it taken before a definite decision is made, leaving me in such a financial position, is unfair.
An appeal tribunal eventually overturned the original decision– but our savings are gone.
Sadly, mine is not an exceptional story. Since 2013, 50,000 people have lost their Motability vehicles as the government has been moving people from the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Many get them back on appeal. But before that point, too many of us have seen our savings wrecked or our independence compromised because the Government haven’t conducted their assessment process correctly.
Penny Mordaunt MP, the Minister for Disabled People, told Parliament last year that she expected to continue to make improvements to PIP.
However, a spokesperson at the Department for Work and Pensions recently told Muscular Dystrophy UK no decisions have been made following the Minister’s assurances: “The Government is always exploring new ways to support disabled people and there have been no decisions at this time.”
We need to make sure that Penny keeps her promise, and we need your support to make sure that thousands more people don’t face the problems I have faced.
By Dave Gale