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Government defending decision to keep mobility car from Dagenham autistic man

PUBLISHED: 14:00 04 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:15 04 July 2019

Aaron Drain, 21, and his mother, Karen. Picture: Luke Acton.

Aaron Drain, 21, and his mother, Karen. Picture: Luke Acton.

Luke Acton

The government is pushing ahead in its effort to take back a mobility car from an autistic man who cannot use public transport.

The DWP is pushing contesting the Drain's appeal. They've sent them 300 pages of evidence supporting their case to take away the car he relies on to travel. Picture: Luke Acton.The DWP is pushing contesting the Drain's appeal. They've sent them 300 pages of evidence supporting their case to take away the car he relies on to travel. Picture: Luke Acton.

Karen Drain, the mother of 22-year-old Aaron, who both live in Holgate Gardens, Dagenham, has appealed the decision by the Department of Working Pensions (DWP) because it has left him housebound.

Aaron suffers from autism to such an extent that he cannot use public transport.

However the DWP has sent more than 300 pages of evidence to a tribunal judge to fight the appeal.

While Aaron is fit physically, it means he has effectively become a prisoner in his own home since the DWP took back the car. He has relied on it for at least the past five years.

One of the only times he leaves the house is to go to the Osborne Centre about 10 minutes away.

The centre helps people with physical and mental disabilities socialise and learn new skills.

But since the car has been gone, Karen and Aaron's dad, Steven, said he's been going to the centre less and less.

They care for him full-time have seen him get worse.

"I'm quite emotional, really, I don't know why it's come to this," said Karen

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Aaron's trouble comes from two of the descriptors used to assess Personal Independence Payments - benefits that help disabled people live better lives.

He's been rated unable to follow any journey because of psychological distress, giving him 10 points.

He needs 12.

Previously he was rated as unable to follow a familiar route without a person or aid to help him, which gives 12 points.

In 2017, the DWP tried to make it harder for people suffering from psychological distress to get that highest rating

They changed the criteria to explicitly state 'psychological distress' couldn't be used to reach that top assessment.

The new assessment was struck down by the High Court in December that year.

A spokesman for the DWP said it has fully complied with that ruling.

He added: "We're committed to ensuring that disabled people get the support they're entitled to.

"Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the individual, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist."

The most recent data shows that cases like Aaron's are decided in the appellant's favour (and against the DWP's) 70 per cent of the time.

But it can take up to 25 weeks to get a hearing with the tribunal. Karen has applied to speed-up that process, but there are no guarantees.

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