Radio Sandwell Miscellanea

Disabled 4ft teenager takes on the DWP and wins

2016-04-02 09:39:11

George Coppen© Provided by Mirror George said: "I wasn't going down without a fight"

A disabled teenager with dwarfism who had his benefits cut has won a legal battle against the Government to have the decision overturned.

George Coppen, 19, had been claiming disability living allowance as he suffers from arthritis and relies on a specially-adapted car to get around.

But the 3ft 10in teen was left stunned after he received a letter saying he was losing 75 per cent of his DLA handouts and his car because he wasn't disabled enough.

He enlisted the help of a disability charity that took on the case and represented him at a tribunal, which ruled in his favour yesterday.

DLA is being converted to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) - which George Osborne had wanted to slash £4.4billion from before being forced into a U-turn by Iain Duncan Smith.

George's struggle came without those cuts - and charities warned many more people would be in his situation if they had gone ahead.

George, from Mickleover, Derbyshire, said: "The cut to my disability benefits didn't just lower my income, it cut my ability to be independent.

"Some people when they lose their benefits, they aren't ready for a fight - but me, as soon as I found out I was losing it, I wasn't going down without a fight.

"I was ready to take them on.

"I wasn't just doing it for me, I was doing it for the community of people with dwarfism because I know people who are losing their benefits."

George had been learning to drive in his specially-adapted car which was given to him by the DLA's motability scheme.

But just a week before he was due to take his test, he received the bombshell from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

George added: "I got a letter saying I had to have an assessment.

George Coppen© Provided by Mirror George Coppen, 19, has won a battle against the DWP over his modified car

"So I went and answered questions and a couple of weeks later I got a letter saying they didn't think I should have my car.

"I'm 19, I've got arthritis, I've got a metal rod in my back and it really restricts my day-to-day life.

"The Government wouldn't let me keep my car so I haven't been able to drive on my own. I had to borrow a car for my test.

"I was angry because they didn't take into consideration how many 19-year-olds do you know with arthritis?

"I've been told in my mid-20s I'm going to have a new knee and that's not normal so I was angry."

After initially trying to get the DWP to change its mind, George turned to Disability Direct.

George said: "Firstly me and my parents got the Government to look back over it and they still said I shouldn't have it so then we went to a tribunal.

"At the tribunal, I became a person and not just a number and it took my point across even more.

"Then it was agreed that I should have it."

George Coppen© Provided by Mirror George enlisted help from charity Disability Direct, including Amo Raju and Rob Barfield

Stephen Crabb says there'll be NO more welfare cuts in epic Government climbdown

Rob Barfield, a welfare rights and benefits officer at Disability Direct, said: "I tell people, this is not a benefit, it's a compensation to cover the increased costs of living for having a disability.

"It's a victory of common sense really. I think it's brilliant."

Amo Raju, chief executive of the charity, added: "I think George hit the nail on the head when he said he is not just a number on the file, that's where you see a lot of disabled people across the country.

"You'll find a good portion of disabled people living in poverty, way under the breadline, because the costs of being a disabled person are excruciatingly high.

"A lot of people have died, taken their own life, or their quality of life has suffered; it is a disgraceful outcome that disabled people are on the receiving end of Government cuts."

A spokesperson for DWP said: "Just because a new decision has been made at appeal stage does not mean the previous decision was incorrect.

"In the majority of appeal cases, decisions are overturned because claimants have submitted more evidence."


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