Blow for Leeds's disabled after lifeline vehicles are taken away

Disabled people in Leeds who rely on special cars to remain independent are having their vehicles taken away after being told they no longer qualify for help.

Friday, 6th January 2017, 7:35 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 12:02 pm
Tracey Brookes.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP), introduced in the Welfare Reform Act 2012, replaces the old Disability Living Allowance (DLA) given out by the Government to those living with a disability.

The Government has today been accused of “making life harder for disabled people”, after Motability cars – provided under PIP for people who could not otherwise drive – were recalled from two city residents.

They include Dave Allen, from Wortley, who in 2007 was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, which gradually stops nerve cells from working, eventually making walking, speaking, swallowing and even breathing impossible.

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After having a car under the Motability scheme as part of his disability benefit for more than seven years, he was sent a form to reassess his claim.

“It was a form asking how far could I walk and things like that but it varies day to day for me,” the 58-year-old told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“I can’t put my coat on, I have trouble getting dressed, I have fallen down the steps a few times. I’m able to drive but I need an automatic car, I can’t drive manuals because my hands are getting worse. I do need help.”

Following the death of Mr Allen’s wife Susan in November, who also acted as his primary carer, he said he received a letter in December notifying him that he was no longer entitled to his car.

The vehicle is due to be recalled on Tuesday.

He added: “This will change my life. This isn’t only happening to me, it’s happening to a lot of people. It’s a disgrace.”

In Armley, a stroke turned single mum-of-four Tracey Brookes’ life upside down in February 2015. And, after being given a Motability car as part of her PIP claim, she was told just weeks before Christmas that it was being recalled.

She now has limited mobility in the left side of her body and hand following the stroke and was asked to attend a medical reassessment last year.

Ms Brookes, who works in Meanwood for Leeds City Council’s Stars autism outreach team, said the exam consisted of asking her to raise her arms, cross her legs and squeeze someone’s hand.

“From that, they decided I was no longer entitled to PIP or a mobility vehicle,” she said.

“I still struggle to walk because I get tired quicker and my leg gets weak. I didn’t lie about my symptoms and that’s obviously been to my detriment.”

Her car was taken away on Monday.

Ms Brookes now relies on her dad Roger, 69, to help.

She added: “By removing my car, they are taking away my independence.

“I can no longer drive to work or take my children to school. I’m relying on other people to do that for me.

“If it wasn’t for my father, it would mean I would lose my job.”