Disabled Edinburgh driver threatened with losing her mobility car - again
Alexandra Mitchell, 68, was delighted when the Department of Work and Pensions’ had a change of heart after her doctor confirmed that denying her the specially-adapted car would leave her housebound.
But she was horrified to be told when she went to renew the car under the three-year leasing arrangement that she would no longer qualify for it after October.
Mrs Mitchell, who has a permanent deformity, persuaded the DWP to change the date to October 2020 so she could get the new car.
But she said: ”Then I thought: this is ridiculous, I should not have an end date on an award of this kind, it’s absolute nonsense.
“I have a deformity which I’ve had since birth. There’s not going to be a miracle - this October or next October.”
She said the DWP staff who dealt with her queries were all sympathetic. “As individuals they were so understanding - they could not believe they would put an end date on an award for something like this.”
But she was told an appeal was the only way to remove an end date for her Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - though it is not clear even that would work.
Mrs Mitchell contacted her MSP Christine Jardine for help. “When she phoned up, the DWP said the reason for my award being given short-term was I had been on treatment for breast cancer last year and they hoped my health would improve. But that had absolutely no bearing at all on my mobility.”
“It feels like the word of Damocles held over my head.”
Ms Jardine was due to meet Disabilities Minister Sarah Newton to discuss the case - but she quit her post over Brexit.
However, Ms Jardine was already meeting Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd on other matters and took the opportunity to raise Mrs Mitchell’s case.
“She said could I give her the details and she’ll look at it, so I’ve put it all in a letter for her.”
Ms Jardine said she believed the decision to place an end date on Mrs Mitchell’s benefit was down to “DWP incompetence”.
She said: “It’s not reflecting the fact she’s got a congenital deformity - she’s not going to get better. It’s just ludicrous.”
She added: he recognition that special and informed attention needs to be paid to protecting the interests of, and promoting the needs of, those with disabilities or life-changing conditions is one that we cannot lose sight of.
“It should not matter what issues the body politic has to deal with, or how serious they might be, there is no excuse for turning its back on, or shirking, any responsibility.”
The DWP said the October 2019 given to Mrs Mitchell was a mistake but reassessments were important to ensure people received the right benefits, taking into account any changes in health conditions and disabilities.
A DWP spokesman said: “We have apologised to Mrs Mitchell and reassured her that we will be in touch with her in plenty to time before her PIP is due to be reviewed.”