“I’m basically housebound”: Mum left isolated after motability car is taken from her following benefit assessment

Julie Potter on her empty driveway at North Walsham after having her mobility car taken away, pictur

Julie Potter on her empty driveway at North Walsham after having her mobility car taken away, pictured with husband Chris. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

A North Walsham mother-of-two has been left housebound after having her motability car taken away.

Julie Potter on her empty driveway at North Walsham after having her mobility car taken away. Pictur

Julie Potter on her empty driveway at North Walsham after having her mobility car taken away. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Julie Potter unnecessarily gave up her vehicle in December, after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to notify her that they had overturned a Personal Independent Payment (PIP) assessment to take it away.

Despite the original PIP assessment being rescinded, Mrs Potter has still not been told when she will be given her vehicle back.

The 43-year-old said: 'It's basically left me house bound. I've lost what little bit of independence I did have.'

Mrs Potter was left with crippling back pain following a work accident in 2006, and cannot walk further than six metres without crutches.

'It's affected my daughter quite badly, she's very worried. I had been going into her school to help children with their reading on two afternoons a week, which I can no longer do.'

She added: 'I would give anything not to be in this position. Even if this is something I have to live with, having the car allowed me to do some of the things I should be able to.

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'Obviously I have to think at who's meeting me at the destination to help me, but I could still go out.'

A DWP spokesperson said: 'Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant. Anyone who is unhappy with a decision can appeal, and may submit additional evidence.

'Most people leaving the Motability scheme are eligible for a one-off payment of up to £2,000 to help meet their needs.'

Despite the £2,000 payment, Mrs Potter would still have to raise £16,000 to buy a new motability car.

Mrs Potter and husband Chris, have also appealed the PIP conclusion that she should only receive standard care, and not advanced.

Mr Potter said: 'We've had support from social services for a long time now, and to appeal the decision that we no longer can have them, we need a letter from the GP.

'However, the DWP has told GPs not to write this letter, so we've had to get a solicitor involved.'

An DWP spokesperson said that they advise claimants not to approach their GP as it could incur the patient costs, and will approach GPs themselves if needed.

Local MP takes case to government

The Potters took their case to their local Member of Parliament, Norman Lamb.

Mr Lamb said; 'This is an appalling treatment of people. It is unacceptable that assistance for PIP claimants is being taken away before they have the chance to appeal the decision.

'It's particularly frustrating given that many appeals end in the original decision being reversed, while the claimant often finds their quality of life severely affected without reason. The DWP needs to look closely at how it deals with PIP assessments, and the reality of how they affect people's lives.'

Her case is not isolated – Mr Lamb has learnt of another constituent, Jenny Melville, who is to lose her motability vehicle following a PIP reassessment.

Along with depression and heart issues, Jenny has a serious degenerative disease which prevents her from moving freely. She struggles to move around her house or to the nearest bus stop, and is constantly in pain.

Mrs Melville said: 'I've found the motability vehicle extremely useful as it's given me independence. After many years of relying on the community, I am now able to put something back into it. If I lost my car I would stagnate.'