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Joan Ryan Challenges Government

JOAN RYAN MP CHALLENGES GOVERNMENT ON THE IMPACT WELFARE CHANGES TO THE MOTABILITY CAR SCHEME HAVE HAD ON DISABLED ENFIELD NORTH RESIDENT

Avrupa Times (LONDON)-Joan Ryan MP has said the Government’s welfare changes affecting

access to the Motability Car scheme are _“not fit for purpose”, _as

thousands of disabled people across the country – including in Enfield

North – have seen their cars taken away from them.

 

Speaking during a packed parliamentary debate on the issue, on Tuesday

23rd February, Ms Ryan raised the specific case of a constituent, Ms

Cathy Walsh, who suffers from the disability called severe generalised

dystonia. Ms Walsh has been on Disability Living Allowance for 23 years

and was recently asked to reapply for the new Personal Independence

Payment (PIP). On Friday 18th December 2015, she was notified that her

application for the advanced rate mobility component of PIP had been

turned down and she would no longer be eligible for the Motability Car

scheme. Ms Walsh’s car, which had been invaluable in allowing her to

lead an independent life, was, therefore, taken from her at the

beginning of February.

 

Challenging the Government on how Ms Walsh had been treated, Ms Ryan

stated that the representative from ATOS Healthcare conducting the PIP

assessment had, in reference to the case notes, taken _“longer to

write the report than it took to undertake the assessment”. _In

addition, Joan raised the serious concerns of Ms Walsh’s neurological

consultant who had _“no idea how ATOS’ assessment [that Ms Walsh

could walk up to 200 metres unaided] could have been made”_ given

_“at best she can walk up to 20 metres and on a bad day significantly

less.” _On those terms, Ms Walsh has always had a very strong medical

case to qualify for the higher-rate mobility allowance.__

 

_ _

 

Ms Walsh’s _“car should never have been taken from her in the first

place”, _Ms Ryan said_. _“_Instead, she has had to go down the

extremely stressful route of a mandatory reconsideration and an appeal

to a tribunal,_ _which has only worsened her condition.” _

 

_ _

 

Given the evidence, and the other cases raised by MPs, Joan called for a

thorough review of what the Government has claimed to be a _“fairer

assessment process.”_ Significantly, after the debate - and in light

of the medical evidence provided by her consultant - Ms Walsh received

news from the Department of Work and Pensions that she would now receive

the higher rate mobility component of PIP. Ms Walsh will be eligible to

re-join the Motability Scheme, but it may be weeks before she has access

to a car.

 

JOAN RYAN MP, LABOUR’S MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR ENFIELD NORTH, SAID:

 

_“I am really pleased Cathy’s case has been looked at again, but she

should never have been put in this position._

 

_ _

 

_She deserves a full and frank apology from the DWP for the distress

this situation has caused her over the past two months._

 

_ _

 

_However, Cathy’s case is the tip of the iceberg. It is clear from the

debate that thousands of people are suffering due to this ill-advised

policy._

 

_ _

 

_The Government must conduct a full review to ensure that others do not

face the same fate as Cathy Walsh.”_

 

--ENDS--

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

 

RT. HON JOAN RYAN MP

 

EMAIL: JOANRYAN.LABOUR@GMAIL.COM

 

NOTES:

 

1. The Hansard transcript of Joan’s speech can be found below and the

weblink to the debate in full can be found  here:

 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160223/halltext/160223h0002.htm#16022361000442

[1]

 

2. Severe generalised dystonia is a condition that results in

uncontrolled spasms, affecting Ms Walsh’s limbs and speech, which

means she has great difficulty moving unaided.

 

3. Motability is a registered charity set up by Royal Charter in 1977.

The charity oversees the operation of Motability Operations, a private

limited company which leases and sells motor vehicles and wheelchairs to

disabled people under a number of schemes.

 

4. Atos Healthcare is a private company which conducts assessments on

behalf of the DWP.

 

5. In a report on the issue of Motability from February 2016 the BBC

reported that _“nearly 14,000 disabled people who rely on a specialist

motoring allowance have had their cars taken away from them following

government welfare changes”_:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35476904 [2]

 

SPEECH BY JOAN RYAN MP:

 

JOAN RYAN (ENFIELD NORTH) (LAB): I congratulate the hon. Member for

Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Alan Brown) on securing the debate. I am here

today to raise the issue of my constituent Cathy Walsh, though her case

is representative of many others. She suffers from severe generalised

dystonia, a condition that results in uncontrolled spasms, affecting her

limbs and speech. She has been disabled since birth and has tremendous

difficulty moving unaided. With a seriously disabling disability, she

has been on disability living allowance for 23 years. On Friday 18

December, Ms Walsh was notified that her application for the

advanced-rate mobility component of PIP had been turned down, and she

was distraught—her car, which had been invaluable in allowing her to

lead an independent life, would be taken from her. That life-changing

decision was based on one assessment conducted over an hour. It took the

Atos consultant longer to write the report than it took to undertake the

assessment. Ms Walsh’s neurological consultant has “strong

reservations about the value of this assessment.”

 

I agree. Atos said that Ms Walsh was able to walk between 50 and 200

metres, but her consultant has “no idea how ATOS’ assessment could

have been made, it is clearly incorrect… At best she can walk up to 20

metres and on a bad day significantly less.”

 

On those terms, it is obvious that Ms Walsh has a very strong case to

qualify for the higher-rate mobility allowance. Instead, she has had to

go down the extremely stressful route of a mandatory reconsideration and

an appeal to a tribunal, which is making her condition worse. Her

independence has been severely curtailed, at least until the tribunal

decision is known, which could be months away.

 

Ms Walsh will have to rely on others even to help her cash the £2,000

transitional support cheque from Motability, as she cannot get to the

bank on her own. That raises another issue: why cannot this money be

transferred directly into her account? Even when the £2,000 has been

deposited, Ms Walsh will be in a state of financial limbo. If she wins

her appeal but decides to keep the money, she would not be able to

return to the Motability scheme for six months.

 

Let us assume that Ms Walsh wins her case and wants to return to the

scheme as quickly as possible, which she is keen to do. She would then

have to return most of the £2,000. I do not disagree with that in

principle. However, if the tribunal drags on for several months, Ms

Walsh will inevitably need to use some, if not all, of the transitional

payment to pay for other forms of assistance and transport. She would

then be in debt while having to go through the process of reapplying for

the scheme when her car should never have been taken from her in the

first place. The Government say that what we have now is a “fairer

assessment process.” Well, it does not feel fair to Ms Walsh. She is

deeply distressed. I do not think it is fair; her friends do not think

it is fair; and, more to the point, her consultant, who understands her

condition as well as anyone, thinks it is very unfair. If her treatment

is typical of the way in which thousands of other cases have been dealt

with, the process has not been fair to them, either. The Government must

be willing to conduct a thorough review of the process, which is not fit

for purpose in its current state. I look forward to hearing how the

Minister intends to resolve these issues.

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