A HARDWORKING Andover grandfather with an ultra rare disability says he has been “unfairly” stripped of his vital Motability car, just months after joining the scheme.
Bob Bavister, who suffers from a lifelong disability – hereditary spastic paraplegia – was forced to give up his specially adapted BMW earlier this month, having only taken delivery of the car in June.
The divorced grandfather-of-four, of Artists Way, had previously received a payment to help with the cost of travel, which he spent on maintaining his own adapted 12-year-old Toyota.
However, with his vehicle ageing and the offer of a new car on the table, Mr Bavister, an estimator at a Whitchurch-based electricians, opted to enter the Motability scheme.
Just two weeks after taking on the car he was informed by the Department for Work and Pensions that he would need a new Personal Independent Payment (PIP) assessment.
The 59-year-old, who has continued to work despite the degenerative nature of his condition, was left shocked just weeks later when he was informed that he no longer qualified for the scheme.
Mr Bavister appealed the decision but was swiftly knocked back by the DWP, who asked him to return the car.
He said: “I was shocked when I found out. It seems unfair.
“I don’t understand why they couldn’t have done this before I signed up to the scheme.
(Bob Bavister in the Motability car - taken away from him earlier this month)
“I sold my old car for next to nothing but I could have kept it if I’d known that this would happen.”
According to his assessment, Mr Bavister’s claim was rejected because he is able to walk “more than 20 meters with an aid”.
However the father-of-three says his condition, which is caused by the deterioration of a nerve in the spine, means he can barely walk at all.
His ultra-rare disability, which affects just three in every 100,000 people, gets progressively worse with age .
And the 59-year-old says his condition has deteriorated considerably in the last two years.
But in order to combat the deterioration, Mr Bavister says he needs to use his legs as much as possible .
He said: “I’m classified by doctors as wheelchair-bound but they tell me that with my condition it is better to try and walk as much as yo u can, which is what I do .
“However in the report they say I can walk 20 metres but I can’t and no-one has asked me to do that.
“That’s the biggest blow.
"No-one ever said: ‘Walk from here to there’ and that’s what they have based it on.
“If I had said I was wheelchair-bound I would have got it but I want to be independent.”
Mr Bavister says he now plans to take the DWP to a tribunal in the hope of getting the decision overturned.
In the meantime, the hardworking father has been forced to spend £6,000 on a 10 year old specially adapted motability car in order to keep his job .
The trained electrician has been employed in his current role for the last six years, after giving up his ow n business due to his disability in 2010.
Despite the struggles of working with his disability, Mr Bavister has no intention of giving up his job .
He said: “I want to go to work.
“I enjoy my work and I want to pay my way.
“The thing is by taking the car away they are saving about £1,700-a-year, but by taking away my ability to work they are losing about £8,000-a-year in tax.”
The PIP scheme was introduced in 2013 as a replacement for the old Disability Living Allowance.
Lik e its predecessor, the PIP scheme is designed to help those with disabilities to help with the extra costs that come from having a long-term health condition.
However it has proved controversial, with claimants and disability charities accusing the government of cutting those in need out of vital benefits.
Talking about the scheme, Mr Bavister added: “I have no problem with it. It’s a wonderful scheme but it’s how they go about choosing who gets it.
“They say with the scheme that it is not what condition you have but how you deal with it.
“That’s where they’ve got me because I want to deal with my condition.”
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Decisions for Personal Independence Payments are made after considering all the information provided by the claimant, including any supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.
“Anyone who disagrees with a PIP decision can appeal.
“There are now more people on the Motability scheme than before PIP was introduced and anyone leaving the Motability Scheme is eligible for a one-off payment of £2,000 to help meet their needs.”
Update: Mr Bavister says he was unable to claim the one-off payment, as it is only for those who joined the scheme before 2013.