Thousands of disabled people have had their adapted cars and mobility scooters taken away from them after being put through cruel benefit assessments, charity Motability has recently revealed.
MPs and campaigners are demanding action after 51,000 people had their Motability vehicles withdrawn following a personal independence payment (PIP) assessment. This figure represents almost half of all cases reassessed under PIP since it launched in 2013.
One mother with multiple sclerosis (MS) was left without her Motability car for nearly a year based on nothing more than a PIP assessor tickling her hand with a feather. Sam Adams, 41, was denied the higher rate of PIP when she was reassessed last year despite having collapsed in the past after losing all the strength in her legs. She recalled how her assessor decided that she could walk the required distance despite not having seen her move.
Ms Adams explained: “How she came to that conclusion when she’s not seen me walk, she’s not seen me walk up and down stairs — all she did was tickle my hand with a feather. “hat conclusions she was coming to from tickling my hand with a feather I’ll never know.” Ms Adams was forced to fight her case through a tribunal to overturn the decision and won.She hopes to have her Motability car back by the end of April.
Ms Adams is one of more than 3,000 people, out of the 51,000 affected, who have successfully overturned their PIP assessment, forcing the government to put them back on the Motability scheme. Labour’s former work and pensions minister Angela Eagle warned that in the worst cases people are having the ability to live their life taken away, leaving some housebound. Conservative backbencher Peter Bone said: “You need it for mobility purposes and maybe you use it for work, but because you lose your PIP award you lose the car at the same time. You appeal against the PIP award and ultimately the tribunal awards you back the PIP, but you’ve already lost the car and maybe your job because of it.”
Muscular Dystrophy UK said that 900 cars are being taken away every week as more disabled people have their PIP rejected. The charity’s campaigns director Nic Bungay 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 charity is demanding the government reverse a change in the rules that means to qualify for the higher rate of PIP a person must be unable to walk unaided for 20 metres. Under the disability living allowance (DLA), which PIP replaced, the distance was 50m.
Disabled People Against Cuts founder Linda Burnip said the “ridiculous” situation is costing the government more as it’s forcing disabled workers onto the more expensive access to work schemes. She warned that the lack of medical skills of the assessors is seeing those with qualifications in childcare making decisions about vital funding for disabled people.
The Motability scheme entitles disabled people to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair using part of their benefit. They are specially adapted for the claimant’s individual needs. The Department for Work and Pensions said it constantly reviews its processes to ensure they are working in the best possible way.
A pensioner had to be rescued by a group of burly blokes after her mobility scooter got stuck on a zigzagged ramp by the beach.
Mary Maudlin, 74, had driven down Sea Thistle Way, in Jaywick, before reaching the access ramp to get to the beach. As she drove on to the winding path, her mobility scooter became completely wedged on the second corner. Mrs Maudlin said her mobility scooter was just inches too wide to squeeze around the hairpin bend and she could not shift it from the corner herself.
She explained: “I managed to drive up the first part of the ramp okay, but when I turned left up the second part of the ramp, I got wedged around the sharp corner and just couldn’t move the mobility scooter at all It felt like the ramp got narrower the further up I went and once I was stuck, I was able to climb out, but could not move it myself. Luckily for me three or four young men soon came over and helped shunt the mobility scooter to get me to the top of the ramp and on to the sea wall.”
Mary continued: “The first man who helped me was cutting his grass, then the others came over from nearby shops to assist. It is such a heavy mobility scooter and I don’t know what I would have done without their help. I really cannot thank them all enough.”
Mrs Maudlin said luckily she was able to enjoy the beach views from the top of the ramp, but she then had to drive about 300 yards out of her way to use another slope, which was wide enough to drive down. She said: “I want people to be aware of this issue and aware of the dangers it can cause to mobility scooter users who might not be as lucky as I was.”
Mrs Maudlin is now trying to get in contact with the authorities responsible for the ramp to make them aware of the problem – and prevent other mobility scooters becoming stranded.
A row has broken out between a council and an over-50s group over the lack of allocated spaces for large mobility scooters at a new bus station.
Brian Todd, chairman of Blackburn with Darwen Older Person’s Forum, has accused borough management of being ‘offensive’ over their refusal to make official provision for parking the larger version of the mobility scooter at the £5million public transport hub.
Councillor Phil Riley, the council’s regeneration boss, said the mobility scooters could obstruct other passengers and the borough could not accept responsibility for their protection from damage and theft.
Mr Todd responded: “There is no problem with the smaller mobility scooters which can be taken on buses. The larger version is too big. We have been asking the council to allocate spaces for them by the white wall at the Church Street / Salford end of the bus station. There is plenty room there and these mobility scooters are vital to many disabled and elderly passengers.”
He continued: “It is no good leaving them in the market which closes at 5pm if people are going out for the day. The council’s attitude is offensive and may well breach the human rights of users who should insure their own mobility scooters.”
Cllr Riley commented: “We have offered secure accommodation in the market a few yards away. The council cannot take responsibility for the security of mobility scooters left on the bus station and they are large vehicles which could obstruct other passengers. We are looking at other solutions.”
Chris Smith, bus station manager for Lancashire County Council, said: “Our bus stations don’t have formal facilities for storage of mobility scooters.”
Japanese railways to overturn rule preventing foreign travellers from taking mobility scooters on trains
If you are a mobility scooter user and you have been a tourist or traveller in Japan in the past or are planning to visit the country, this will be of interest to you.
The Japanese transport ministry has urged railways to abolish an industry rule that virtually bans foreign travellers with disabilities from using mobility scooters on trains. The law currently is convoluted and bizarre to say the least. People with disabilities can only take their mobility scooter on a train if the vehicle has been purchased or leased using Japanese government subsidies or through the nursing care insurance system. Such users are required to present certificates or stickers issued by railway companies whenever boarding trains, including on the subway.
Such users are required to present certificates or stickers issued by railway companies whenever boarding trains, including on the subway. However, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced recently that under a draft new rule developed in conjunction with railway operators, train users would not be required to obtain the certificates or stickers provided their mobility scooters meet the standards.
The ministry has been talking with operators since November about revising some rules that are only specific to Japan and that have often been criticised by people with disabilities and their supporters for being discriminatory. The changes, if adopted, would allow foreign travellers to use a mobility scooter on trains while in Japan. The new law, if and when introduced, will affect travel on all of Japan’s major railways, including East Japan Railway Co., West Japan Railway Co., Central Japan Railway Co. and Tokyo Metro Co.
The video shows the scooter rider holding up traffic including a lorry which comes up behind the queue and is forced to come to a crawl. Neil Wheatley filmed from the passenger seat of a car being driven by his wife. He said that two trucks were forced to pull out around the scooter before it went past the A52 junction and down to Pentagon Island.
Neil explained: “The mobility scooter rider went straight over a solid white line and into the path of a bus. He could have quite easily caused a crash with all the vehicles that were having to brake. There was bit of a tailback, too. I want the police to track him down because he’s a danger to himself and others.”
Mr Wheatley 39, of Wiltshire Road, Chaddesden, said he rang police as he and his wife tailed the mobility scooter rider up Nottingham Road. He continued: “He was going through red lights and all sorts. The idea of staying behind him was to stick with him until the police arrived but we couldn’t stay there for too long because we had to go an pick up our little girl from school.”
This all took place just weeks after a similar incident where a mobility scooter was filmed moving along the A601 in Derby ( reported on in an earlier on this blog ).
A police spokesman said officers wanted to trace the mobility scooter rider. He said: “People who use mobility scooters are allowed to drive them on roads for short periods of time. What they should not do is drive on roads for extended periods, in front of buses, lorries and other vehicles, as there is clearly a very serious risk of them coming to harm. It’s important that we speak to the man to advise him of the dangers he may be putting himself or other road users in.”
He added: “With the mobility scooter having no registration plate, it’s difficult for us to identify the man and speak to him about his actions. However we would urge anyone who might recognise him or know someone matching his description to get in touch with us as soon as they can.”
People with information should call Derbyshire police on 101
If you have witnessed similar dangerous driving incidents involving mobility scooters, tell us about it in the Reply Box below.
A 50-year-old disabled woman had to be pushed up a road in Croydon by passers-by when the power for her mobility scooter ran out, not long after she was refused permission to charge it in a McDonald’s restaurant.
Deborah Molloy, from New Addington, drove in to the McDonald’s on Church Street in Croydon town centre because her mobility scooter was running low on power. Miss Molloy bought something to eat in order to be courteous rather than just going in to recharge her scooter.
She explained: “I barely made it through the shop doors because the battery was so flat, all of the lights that mean I am going to stop dead any minute now were flashing. I ordered some food to sit in and eat. I spoke to the supervisor and said ‘there’s something wrong with the scooter, the batteries are not holding. Can I just plug it in while I have something to eat? I was told no, unequivocally, absolutely not. He said ‘it’s not our policy to allow people to plug in scooters and phones’. I told him it’s not a phone, it’s a mobility scooter because I am disabled.”
Miss Molloy has a brace on one knee while her other leg is badly swollen. She also has a heart condition, blood disorder and chronic arthritis. She continued: “I understand if somebody just comes in to plug in their mobile phone or their tablet, that can be an issue, but this is a mobility scooter I’m not riding it because I’m too lazy to put my two feet on the floor, I’m riding it because I can’t walk very far. I can make it around the house, that’s it. I take 120 milligrams of morphine every day because of the pain that I’m in. Every time I put my foot down it’s like walking on huge shards of broken glass. I’m waiting for major surgery on my left knee.”
After not being allowed to charge up her mobility scooter, Deborah limped out the McDonalds restaurant on her mobility scooter before it spluttered to a standstill. She described her plight: “I managed to get most of the way back up the street but then it broke down. In order to get as far up the street as I did, I had to keep turning it off, sit there for a few minutes and let what little charge was left in the battery gather itself, turn it back on, go a couple of feet and turn it off again, until it just completely stopped dead.”
Miss Molloy said that McDonald’s’ decision made her feel degraded: “From the point of view of McDonald’s being a family orientated company, I was really disappointed. I told them I would not be able to make it home and asked if I could just charge it for five minutes. He [the supervisor] wasn’t having any of it. He completely dismissed me out of hand. They made me feel like I had left my house and deliberately gone to McDonald’s in order to rob their electricity supply. They absolutely refused point blank to let me charge my mobility scooter. I was made to feel like a second class citizen.”
A McDonald’s spokeswoman defended the company’s policy, explaining: “In the past we have facilitated this customer’s request and charged her scooter in our restaurant.
We are disappointed that this occasion, offered as goodwill, has not been recognised. On the last instance, the customer was informed that due to health and safety issues, we would no longer be able to honour future requests which was accepted. We are sorry to hear that we have caused upset in this instance.”
In earlier articles on this blog we have documented other incidents involving refusal to mobility scooter drivers for access through the McDonalds Drive Thru facility. Have you had any problems at McDonalds restaurants? If so, please tell us about it in the Reply Box below.
High-powered mobility scooters have been banned from a neighbourhood centre in a health and safety crackdown.
Action was taken after a number of incidents involving staff and visitors leading to Class 3 mobility scooters ( which can be driven on roads and reach speeds of up to 8mph ) are no longer allowed inside Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre in Staffordshire. Riders of Class 2 mobility scooters ( which can only be driven on pavements ) have been ordered to ‘drive very slowly’ through the building.
Mobility scooter rider Dennis Webster has labelled the ban a ‘big inconvenience’. The 84-year-old, from Timble Close, Bentilee, commented: “Now you have to park outside the centre and tell the staff where you want to go. Then they push you in a wheelchair.It bothers me because you have independence on a mobility scooter and having to have someone push you around isn’t the same. It is the way things are going with health and safety. A lot of people are complaining.”
Another mobility scooter rider Brian Meredith, aged 68, of Bentilee, said: “People on mobility scooters need to be careful – there’s some weight behind one of those. But there doesn’t need to be a blanket ban.”
Patrick Harvey, aged 67, from Longton, said: “This decision is a bit odd and very inconvenient. This centre provides a service to the sort of people who will use mobility scooters. It’s annoying from an access point of view. Some facilities may be off limits for people because of this.”
Karen Tunnicliff, aged 57, from Hanford, added: “There should be access everywhere for the elderly. When I had young children, I wouldn’t go in a place unless it was child friendly – and it’s a similar situation with this. You can’t always get someone to push you. There needs to be a safe and secure place where people can park their mobility scooters. I know there is an aspect of health and safety, but then they should alter the building, not the people, so it does not cause a problem.”
The neighbourhood centre is run by Pinnacle PSG and is the base for services provided by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the NHS. A council spokesman said: “Large roadworthy (Class 3) mobility vehicles are no longer allowed inside Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre. This decision has been made by all tenants at the centre. The neighbourhood centre was not designed to accommodate Class 3 mobility vehicles and, following a number of recent safety incidents involving staff and visitors – including one in which an elderly woman was knocked over – a decision was made based on guidelines in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.”
The spokesman continued: “We appreciate the difficulties this may pose for some people but the health and safety of all visitors has to be our top priority. Staff are more than happy to aid anyone visiting Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre, and wheelchairs can be borrowed for use on site if we are given prior notice. People with a Class 3 mobility vehicle who will now need mobility assistance inside the centre are asked to contact staff to arrange further assistance.”
An elderly pensioner has been apprehended by police after riding his mobility scooter on a motorway in Scotland.
A number of members of the public contacted police gravely concerned for the safety of a 92-year-old after he was witnessed travelling on the M74 in Lanarkshire. The pensioner was pulled over close to junction six near Motherwell and Hamilton. He had been driving along a new lane of the motorway which was not yet open to traffic but he was just metres away from fast-moving cars and lorries, according to reports. Police said the man was “taken home by officers”.
This is the second similar incident of a mobility scooter being driven on a dual carriageway and motorway in as many days and both reported on this blog. Have you witnessed something like this or accidentally found yourself driving onto a dual carriageway or motorway on your mobility scooter? If so, tell us about it in the Reply Box below.
A mobility scooter was caught on camera being driven along a busy inner-city ring road.
Motorist Linda Miller captured the dashcam footage on the A601 in Derby on her way home from a shopping trip. Mrs Miller, from Littleover, said she saw the scooter “tootling along” on Tuesday.
While some motorised scooters can legally be driven on roads, a Derbyshire Police spokesman said it was “not really appropriate” for the vehicle to be on the ring road. The ring road has a 40mph speed limit, although of course the mobility scooter was travelling far slower than that.
Linda Miller, a retired phlebotomist, expanded : “We were just driving along coming around Derby where the A6 goes off, on the north side of Derby. I looked sideways and there was this mobility scooter tootling along in the far left-hand lane. It didn’t have a licence plate. It just looked so dangerous. It’s a bit of road where you’ve got a lot of cars coming on, and going off, across five lanes. It’s bad enough when you’re in a car – it’s a horrendous bit of road.”
The Highway Code states mobility scooters with an 8mph (12.9 kph) speed limit can be used on dual carriageways – with a speed limit of under 50 mph (80kmh) – but only if they have a flashing amber beacon.
Elderly residents have won a campaign to have dropped curbs outside their homes so they can get to the local shops on mobility scooters.
A £2,800 project was rolled out in The Hollies in Maybank, Staffordshire where complaints had been made over the pavements for some time. Now dropped kerbs have been created meaning those with mobility restrictions are able to access local amenities on their mobility scooters.
Resident Bill Finlay says the dropped kerbs will make a massive difference to people’s lives. The 75-year-old, who has a mobility scooter, said: “Before the drop kerbs we were prisoners in our own homes. I was having to take my scooter down the middle of the busy main road and I fell over twice onto my side. It made it impossible to go out to the shops as if I was to walk and I would be in agony.”
Bill is delighted the work has been carried out after a concerted 12-month campaign. The pensioner added: “It is great to have them now and be able to go out and about again. This will change the lives of quite a lot of the residents who couldn’t get out and ended up stuck in their homes or having to pay the expense of getting a taxi.”
Councillor Olszewski used cash from his local members’ fund to contribute towards the project. He said: “This has been a joint project between myself and Staffordshire Housing to install the dropped kerbs. The residents were in need and it was incredibly dangerous for them to try and get into town and they had become trapped because of the fear. We worked to get them installed and it has taken time but they are in now and the elderly can get to the shops safely without issue.”
Staffordshire Housing were also happy to contribute to the project. Housing manager David Allcock, said: “Our residents, especially those with mobility issues and with mobility aids, had difficulty getting from The Hollies down to the main footpath on The Brampton. Together with Staffordshire County Council, we installed dropped curbs to improve access. The changes have made a real difference. Our residents can now get out and about more confidently and safely.”
Have you had problems in your area with a lack of dropped kerbs on the pavements? Let us know in the Reply Box below.