Cramond woman ‘not disabled enough’ to keep special car

Alexandra Mitchell, 68, who has both legs in calipers, is to lose her Motability car after a new benefits assessment ruled she no longer qualified. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Alexandra Mitchell, 68, who has both legs in calipers, is to lose her Motability car after a new benefits assessment ruled she no longer qualified. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A WOMAN who has both legs in calipers and relies on a specially-adapted car to get around is set to lose the vehicle after welfare bosses ruled she was not disabled enough.

Alexandra Mitchell, 68, was shocked when she was told she no longer qualified for a Motability car despite a letter from her GP warning that taking it away would leave her housebound.

Mrs Mitchell, who lives in Cramond, said her husband Brian, also 68, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, had already lost his mobility allowance when she was summoned for an assessment 
interview.

“I had just come out of chemotherapy for breast cancer when this letter arrived from DWP,” she said.

“I never thought they would take away my allowance because my condition is a deformity I was born with and it’s never going to get better.

“I’ve had Motability cars for 20 years. I have no muscle development in my legs. My knees don’t bend enough for me to kneel and my feet don’t flex at the ankles.”

She said the woman who assessed her reported she walked with a “good gait”.

“I’m 4ft 5.5 inches and I have calipers to the top of both legs – one leg is shorter than the other, so I have to swing my left foot out at every step, yet she said I had a good gait,” she said.

“This was on an office carpet. She didn’t see me on 
cobbles or uneven pavements. She asked if I had stairs at home and how I coped with them. I cope with them by going up on all fours and coming down on my bottom.”

Mrs Mitchell said she feared she was being penalised for being too positive.

“I’m seriously handicapped, but I have never let it define me,” she said. “My mantra is ‘I can do it’. But a large part of managing my whole life is having that Motability car.

“Now they’re expecting me to go shopping on the bus. I need both hands to lock my calipers at the hinges when I stand up and both hands to get on the bus.”

Thousands of people across the country are having to go through similar assessments due to the replacement of Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Mrs Mitchell said she had submitted supporting letters from her own doctor and the cancer specialist who treated her. “My GP said they were going to make me housebound,” she said.

Mrs Mitchell said: “When I finished with the cancer treatment, I thought ‘I’ve beaten it, I’ve got my life back, I will be able to go out’, but no.

“The introduction of Personal Independence Payments is effectively taking away my personal independence.”

Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine said assessments were often “box-ticking exercises with no understanding of people’s situation”.

A DWP spokeswoman said: “We’re determined to ensure that every disabled person gets the right support that they need. PIP takes a much wider look at the way a person’s health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis.”