Scaffolders Mobility Car
Image via: Barnsley Chronicle

A Barnsley scaffolder who suffered three amputations on the same leg along with a damaged hand has been refused higher rate mobility benefit and could lose his adapted car.

Paul Tate from Langsett Road, New Lodge in the town, fell about 12ft from a scaffold in September 2000. But it wasn’t until a few years later  part of his leg had to be amputated following complications, and he’s lost even more of the same leg since. The 46-year-old was in and out of hospital, and about eight years after his accident, received the devastating news his leg would have to be amputated six inches below the  knee.

Despite this major setback, he carried on working as and when he could. He remained in the scaffolding trade, confined largely to driving rather than climbing ladders. Paul said: “I only fell about 12ft, but I landed badly, just on my left leg,” said Paul, 46, of Langsett Road, New Lodge.

“I lost about eight inches of shin bone, it just shattered basically. They put me one of those big frames on which I had for a few years. But it kept getting infected. I worked and kept involved as much as I could, but the infection would flare up and wipe me out, sometimes for months at a time. They then had to take another inch off my leg, but I still kept working. It was totally devastating as it keeps flaring up and I’m still in and out of hospital.”

Finally two years ago, surgeons had to amputate for a third time – this time above the knee. A fall , when his knee gave way, resulted in surgery to a hand needing total reconstruction. The metal plate  inserted restricting it’s use, means he cannot push himself in a wheelchair and can’t use crutches. He also struggles to walk more than a few metres and only on to his flat.

Paul has been entitled to a car under the Motability scheme for 15 years, which is replaced every three years. He’s always chosen to pay a contribution himself to upgrade to a larger and higher car – a Ford Cougar – as it’s easier for him to get in and out of. Last year however, he had to apply again for the benefit, but was refused on the basis he did not need the ‘higher rate mobility allowance’. A second application was also rejected, and and next month he will have to take his fight to a tribunal.

“If they read my history over the last 15 years, and read what I’ve gone through, surely they can see I’ve got a mobility problem, added Paul. I’m knackered without my car basically, it gives me independence. I pull the car up the side of the house, and it’s one step from my kitchen into my car. It gets me out and about, I can get out and see the grand-kids, see friends, and get to hospital when I need to. I physically cannot get about without my car.”

Paul’s twin brother Graham said: “That car is his lifeline. I just can’t believe they want to take it off him. You see people who can walk about getting cars. He can’t walk, he can’t go out without someone else with him. He’s absolutely terrified he’s going to lose it, and I think it’s just disgusting.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions 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. Anyone who is unhappy with a decision can appeal, and may submit additional evidence.

“Most people leaving the Motability scheme are eligible for a one-off payment of up to £2,000 to help meet their needs.”