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Whitstable: MS patient John Atkins loses motability car allowance

By Gazette reporter

A grandfather living with multiple sclerosis says his life has been ruined after he was stripped of his motability car.

John Atkins, who had been granted an assisted car for almost 30 years, was deemed too fit for the allowance despite his belief that his condition is worsening.

The 68-year-old has now asked for Whitstable MP Julian Brazier’s support after the Department for Work and Pensions scrapped his benefit.

MS sufferer John Atkins
MS sufferer John Atkins

The Swalecliffe Road resident said: “I never used to get depressed but this ordeal has made me really down.

“I feel so anxious about the uncertainty that lies ahead, and my health has deteriorated since Christmas.

“Now that the car has gone I’m basically stuck at home, relying on friends and family to help me get out and about.”

Mr Atkins, who cannot walk more than six metres without help, will launch an appeal at an independent tribunal.

“I never used to get depressed but this ordeal has made me really down...“I feel so anxious about the uncertainty that lies ahead, and my health has deteriorated - John Atkins

“An assessor came round to my house and asked me to squeeze his hand, and try to stand up – which was very painful and I thought cruel.

“I just about did it. I then emphasised that my MS is very variable and I never know what the next day, let alone the next week, will bring.

“A few weeks later, I was dumbfounded when I opened a letter to discover that I’d been given the standard rate of care instead of the highest rate.”

“I was then forced to return the car this month.”

The former head greenkeeper at Chestfield Golf Club, who was diagnosed with MS in 1987, now struggles to get further afield than Canterbury.

Mr Atkins said: “My wife has a small car, so my mobility scooter cannot fit in it.

“Therefore, I really can’t go far and hope the tribunal will be held in Canterbury.”

Laura Wetherly, policy manager for welfare and employment at the MS Society, expressed her concern about government benefit cuts.

“We’re appalled to hear about John’s story, and unfortunately he is one of many whose lives are being severely impacted by changes to disability benefits,” she said.

The mobility vehicle John Atkins relied on
The mobility vehicle John Atkins relied on

“It’s absurd that someone who has relied on a motability vehicle to maintain his independence for nearly half of his life is now no longer deemed to be in need of this crucial support.”

Mr Atkins is yet to hear back from Sir Juilan regarding the matter.

Ann Rimell, spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “Decisions for Personal Independence Payment are made after considering all of the evidence from the claimant and their GP.

“Anyone who disagrees with a decision can appeal.”

She added: “In most cases anyone who is leaving the motability scheme is eligible for a one-off payment of £2,000 to help meet their needs.”

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