As a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee I have been appalled at the recent treatment of Motability by the latest Secretary of State, Esther McVey MP.

Motability have provided vehicles and scooters to five million people and made a huge contribution to disabled people’s lives for decades. They deserve credit for the way they have navigated changes from their former model and adapted to provide insurance and greater support to disabled people and their families.

The recent criticism of Motability from Ministers and spinners at DWP is deeply cynical. On 8th February the Secretary of State claimed to have directed Motability in 2013 to provide better protection for disabled people receiving the mobility element of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) losing out when being reassessed for Personal Independence Payments (PIP). This is astonishing in and of itself.

At the time of the legislation introducing PIP I was co-chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium and Director of Policy at Disability Alliance. Whenever any disabled people’s organisation suggested disabled people would massively lose out under PIP at that time, McVey, IDS and others in the Coalition Government went into overdrive to pretend we were exaggerating the impact and ‘scaremongering’. To now claim Ministers were trying to get mitigating measures introduced for their own policy is both absurd and an extraordinary admission of a deceit on Parliament and the public back then.

Motability is also independent of DWP and Ministers cannot ‘direct’ how it uses its resources. Conservative DWP Ministers are not famous for being on top of their brief, but this very basic state of division of responsibilities should be made apparent by civil servants. But the new focus on Motability and attempts by the Government now to try and bully Motability is, I suspect, a fascinating attempt to distract from the disaster that is PIP delivery.

That Motability introduced a range of measures to help disabled people affected by PIP seems to be missed by Ministers seeking to cast blame elsewhere. Motability in 2012 agreed to introduce a new guide to the PIP system for disabled people and have already spent £150 million to help the people who have lost out. That is an astonishing sum given the direct impact on the number of disabled people able to use Motability has been deliberately shrunk as a direct result of the Government’s PIP policy.

It has been almost five years since PIP was introduced. In that relatively short time 75,000 Motability users have already lost the mobility component of their benefit awards in figures disclosed to the select committee. It represents about 43% of all those undergoing the new assessment.

No doubt some of the disabled people and their families affected live in Conservative MPs’ seats and have been to see their local representatives. I suspect this is driving the renewed focus and blame on Motability sadly. If MPs turned their questions and the spotlight onto the Government’s own policy, perhaps political scapegoating would not be required.

- written by Neil Coyle MP.  Neil Coyle is MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee and Chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group for foodbanks.

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