A DISABLED West Lothian woman who lost an appeal for the return of her Motability car has told how being confined to her house is leading to her becoming depressed.

Anne Meikle, who lives in the village of Philpstoun with her husband Raymond, suffers from several illnesses including the breathing condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and arthritis; she has had a series of mini-strokes that have left her weakened down one side of her body, and she is partially blind in her left eye through encephalitis.

The 68-year-old has also had operations on both her knees, her upper body has been weakened as an after effect of radiotherapy treatment for cancer and she is prone to dizziness and collapsing.

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She received her first Motability car almost 10 years ago when she was in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), but had to return her latest vehicle last year following an assessment for personal independence payment (PIP) that found she was not entitled to the additional support.

“I was told I didn’t have enough points to qualify for the car, so we had to return it,” said Anne.

“I have to go shopping with a wheelchair, because I can’t go round the shops without it. Public transport is very limited around here and how can you go on a bus with a wheelchair and try to get back with bags full of groceries on your own?

“I defy anybody to try it.”

Anne was retested in January, which resulted in a further rejection earlier this month after it was ruled she could “plan and follow the route of a journey unaided”.

“She was never asked if she could plan a journey unaided,” said Raymond.

“The woman that came here asked if she could plan and follow the route of a journey – well of course she could plan it and follow it in her mind’s eye, but she would need help to be able to undertake it.

“She asked Anne to stand up and then balance on one leg while rotating her opposite foot at the ankle, stand on her right leg and move her left ankle, that sort of thing.

“As Anne stood up and was about to raise her other leg, she lost her balance and was about to fall, so I jumped up and caught her by the arm.

“The woman got up and grabbed her other arm and had her do the exercise while we were holding her up – so she wasn’t doing that unaided.

“She could not have stood on one leg because she would have lost her balance.”

He added that the whole system was weighted against anyone trying to make a claim, regardless of how justified it may be.

“In the mobility section of the claim form you have to get 12 points to qualify, but because the first question on planning and following a journey has come back with ‘unaided’ added, it means she can’t gain enough points to qualify.

“The questions are designed to give the answers they [the Department for Work and Pensions] want to keep costs down.

“I’d like to invite them up to the house and tell them to let my wife plan and make a journey to see if she can do it on her own, but we’d need paramedics on standby in case she faints.

“We might also need a doctor, but there is no way she’d be able to plan and follow a journey through on her own.”

Anne added: “I am feeling more depressed at not being able to get out without planning it well in advance.

“We now have to borrow vehicles from family members, but they all have their own lives to lead with young families, so it is very difficult.”

Martyn Day, SNP candidate for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, said: “This harrowing account is just yet another example of the Tories’ utterly careless and disgraceful attitude to social security – on the doorsteps we are hearing more and more examples of people having their benefits cut and Motability vehicles taken away.

“The Tories found the money to cut taxes for the rich, yet they say there is no money to provide the sick and disabled with support that they need.

“These are exactly the sort of serious issues which people should be considering when they cast their vote in the election.

“While the Tories will only seek to make further unnecessary cuts, the SNP will stand up for Scotland and are committed to building a social security system based on dignity and respect.”

A spokesperson for the DWP said: “Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.

“Most people leaving the Motability scheme are eligible for a one-off payment of up to £2,000 to help meet their needs, and for claimants aged over 65 they may be eligible to claim Attendance Allowance.”