Severely disabled man faces losing adapted car midway through benefits legal fight

A man who is unable to speak and cannot walk fears losing his specially adapted car during his mother’s High Court battle over his disability benefits.

Cameron Mitchell suffers from regular seizures, muscle spasms and has to be fed through a tube, according to his lawyers.

Last summer his Personal Independence Payment and his mum’s Carer’s Allowance, were halted because he was admitted to hospital and spent 185 days there.

The 20-year-old was due to receive up to £152.15 per week to help with the cost of being disabled.

However, Cameron only received payments for the first 28 days he spent in hospital, sparking a legal dispute he and mum Nicola are now fighting in court.

Cars for disabled people are operated by the Motability scheme
Cars for disabled people are operated by the Motability scheme

Cameron’s mum Nicola Clulow was given permission last week to fight a High Court judicial review against the 28-day rule, which her lawyers say breaches human rights law on discrimination.

But while the battle is ongoing, the family has faced demands to return his PIP-funded Motability car, according to Mirror Online.

While the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) agreed to stop clawing back overpayments for at least six months, the mobility element of his PIP – used to fund the car – was still clawed back in late 2021.

They were initially asked to return the Motability car by this Thursday.

After the Mirror intervened, Nicola was told the date had been extended to June 3.

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But that would still be before the High Court hearing in Cameron’s case, which is currently due on June 22.

Lawyers say Cameron is spending half his week in a care home and half in hospital and needs the car to get between the two.

His mum Nicola said: “He’s 20 years old and has had to spend days and nights for months watching very sick people who often don’t survive.

“Despite his lack of communication, it’s clear to everyone that he was switching off from the world, was depressed and just had no interest in life.

“Contact with the outside world and the ability to go home to be with family are crucial for him.

“To go out, and especially to go home, Cameron requires a great deal of equipment to go with him and this would be impossible without his Motability car.

“Having been called on 21 February 2022 by Motability to say his vehicle must be returned on Thursday 3 March was one of the most difficult and upsetting situations we have faced.

“It means that Cameron will once again have to simply stay looking at the four walls of the Intensive Care unit and not get home.”

DWP officials argue the 28-day limit is a long-standing rule that stops people being funded twice at the same time, by the NHS and the benefit system.

But Nicola’s case is backed by evidence from Mencap, Carers UK and Marie Curie.

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She argues that even though Cameron was in hospital, she still needed to provide essential care – including spotting when a seizure was imminent, communicating with him and helping him move around.

Leigh Day solicitor Carolin Ott said: “We are very pleased that the court has granted our client permission for a judicial review of the hospitalization rule which has suspended his PIP and his mother’s Carer’s Allowance.

“But [we] are deeply concerned by the detrimental impact of the enforcement of the rule whilst Cameron awaits his day in court.

“Cameron is a young man with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and like many others with PMLD is dependent on input from his known carers.

“In circumstances where the NHS alone can’t cover his care needs, his PIP should have never been suspended in the first place.”

A Motability spokesperson said: “Should the DWP decide to suspend a customer’s allowance due to hospitalisation, Motability Operations will make contact with the customer to understand the nature of suspension.

“The Scheme is only able to supply cars, powered wheelchairs or scooters to those in receipt of a qualifying allowance.

“Motability Operations have been supporting the Clulow family, however given the exceptional nature of this case and the ongoing legal review, Motability Operations will be contacting Mrs Clulow to discuss what further support they may be able to offer given the family’s current individual circumstances.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “We do not comment on live litigation.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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