DJ can barely walk but the government took our car

Shona Tilley with her eight year old son DJ
Shona Tilley with her eight year old son DJ
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A FAMILY with a disabled son who is unable to walk to school have been stripped of their car by the UK Government.

Derek Tilley, known as DJ, has cerebral palsy and can only walk short distances. He now has to rely on a taxi to take him to school, and struggles to leave the house outside school hours.

Today his mum Shona Tilley said: “It’s heartbreaking, he’s saying to me ‘I wish I was never born, why was I born disabled?’.”

In 2007, DJ was awarded a five-year Disability Living Allowance (DLA), which his mother used to pay for a car under a government mobility scheme.

She was told in December, however, that he would no longer receive the benefit, and in February the car was taken away.

DJ has worn a splint since he was two years old and his mobility is so restricted that the city council now has to pay for taxis to take him to Murrayburn Primary School from the family home, half a mile away in Broomhouse Street South.

His mother said DJ had been left very distressed by the loss of the car, which made it hard for him to get out of the house. She said his physical condition was also worsening because he was being forced to walk so much.

Ms Tilley said she couldn’t understand why her son’s DLA had been removed when his condition had deteriorated, and walking caused him pain.

She said: “He got awarded DLA in 2007, and since then he’s had four or five operations, botox injections in his legs, his spine is twisted at the bottom, his legs are different lengths.

“He walks on his tiptoes on his left foot, he can’t balance. His body deteriorates the older he gets.

“It’s so unbelievable, he can’t walk, he needs his mobility car and I’m having to rely on people for lifts.

“He has good days and he has bad days. He’s now getting a taxi to get to school, because he can’t walk it.”

Ms Tilley has appealed twice to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) against the decision and is now pursuing it at a third, independent hearing operated by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service.

Her distress was compounded last week when she called the DWP and was told her son’s file had gone missing, which would delay her latest appeal, although it has since been found.

The fight has been taken up by Pentlands MSP Gordon MacDonald, who said he was dealing with several similar cases.

“I’m becoming very concerned about the changes to the criteria for granting the mobility component of disability living allowance,” he said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the Department of Work and Pensions is targeting the most vulnerable groups in our community.

“Attacking people who are on benefits might get a cheap round of applause at the Tory conference, but severely disabled people like Ms Tilley’s son are not scroungers. They need and deserve continued support.”

A spokeswoman for the DWP said: “Disability Living Allowance is paid to help people who are unable to walk or virtually unable to walk or do things like wash and dress themselves.

“If a child’s circumstances change as they get older and they adapt to their condition, then they might not get the benefit any more or they might get a different rate. People also have the right to appeal if they don’t agree with a decision.

“We have apologised to Ms Tilley for the delay in handling her appeal, we were in contact with her throughout and confirmed the papers required had been located.”