The number of people returning Motability vehicles has climbed to over 900 a week, according to worrying new data obtained by Muscular Dystrophy UK.
51,000 people have lost access to Motability vehicles as they have been switched from the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) since 2013.
Analysis of previously-released official data by Muscular Dystrophy UK also shows that the number of people eligible for Motability funding has fallen in half during the reassessment process. 126,300 of the 254,200 people who were eligible for Motability funding under DLA and were reassessed for PIP by 31 October 2016 have lost access to it.
The news comes just days after statistics from the Ministry of Justice  showing that 65 per cent of people who contest their PIP award have won their case on appeal, demonstrating the failures in how cuts have been made. These numbers have held at that level for the last three quarters, the highest since PIP changes were introduced.
Muscular Dystrophy UK has seen the number of people contacting the charity about problems with their PIP more than double in the last six months.
Government-funded Motability cars, mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs are specially adapted for the individual needs of disabled people, and are vital for maintaining independence.
Muscular Dystrophy UK is calling on the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to reverse a fiercely-contested change in the rules. To qualify for the higher level of the mobility component of PIP, which is needed to get a Motability vehicle, a person must be unable to walk aided or unaided for 20 metres, compared to the previous distance of 50 metres under the DLA assessment.
The 50-metre rule is well-recognised, and is used by the Department of Transport as guidance for inclusive mobility. The Government has not been able to produce any evidence to support the use of the 20-metre rule, which was introduced by the DWP with no prior warning.
The switch to the 20-metre rule has been compounded by a lack of knowledge about the reliability criteria, which are included in the assessment to ensure that people can not only walk 20 metres, but do so safely and more than once in a short time period. However, many people being assessed do not know the rules about the reliability criteria, and are losing their vehicles as they can barely or unsafely walk 20 metres.
Muscular Dystrophy UK is calling for:
• The DWP to revert to the 50-metre rule
• The DWP and assessment providers Atos and Capita to ensure that all applicants are made aware of the reliability criteria and are prompted to consider them
• The DWP to ensure vehicles are not taken away until a final decision has been reached. The appeals process currently takes longer than the time allowed for people to return their cars
Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information, said:
“Each of the 51,000 vehicles being taken away is a story about a disabled person’s independence being compromised. This is having a devastating effect on quality of life. The fact that two thirds of people who contest their PIP award win their case shows that the system isn’t working and is in urgent need of reform.
“The government consulted on the 20-metre rule and over 1,000 organisations and individuals responded expressing concerns – these organisations and individuals have been ignored. We need the government to review the 20-metre rule now, and for people being assessed to be told about the reliability criteria, to bring an end to a profoundly short-sighted rule.”