Sydenham man not paid benefits since December worried he will lose his livelihood

A Sydenham man who has not been paid disability benefit since December last year is worried he will lose his car and his livelihood if nothing changes.
Simon LaBarbera, 36, of Baddesley Close, has been a wheelchair user all his life after being born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

He currently holds down a full-time job as a data inputter at Warwick Hospital, and was claiming Disability Living Allowance before the benefit changed to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

He was due to be seen by an assessor to see whether he was eligible for PIP on Monday November 13, but Simon got his dates mixed up and missed the appointment.

Because of this, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) stopped his benefit on Tuesday December 12.

He is now worried he will no longer be able to afford his Motability car, which he relies on to get out and about.

Although Motability, which offers cars at a discount to disabled drivers, gave Simon a grace period since his benefit stopped, he will lose the car on Tuesday June 26 if he does not pay them.

Simon said: “The car situation is really my most important priority.

“If I don’t have my car, I won’t be able to get to work and I won’t be able to help out at Warwick and Leamington Phab (a youth club held in Leamington for disabled and able-bodied young people aged 10-19 years).

“My car is a support network for me that I’m lost without.”

Despite trying for a long time to get the situation sorted, Simon was only seen by the DWP again on Thursday April 12, five months after he was supposed to be seen initially.

He has also appealed the DWP’s decision to deny him benefit after the mix-up in November. His case is now with the Tribunal Service awaiting a hearing date.

Simon has been claiming disability benefit since he was a teenager, and could not believe how difficult it has been to claim PIP.

He added: “I’ve got a disability that’s never going to get any better – this sort of thing should be taken into account (by the DWP).”

Simon’s aunt Sally Holland was also very critical of the situation.

She said: “This is about his wellbeing. He’s worked ever since he’s been able to work.

“If he loses his Motability car, he’d have to give up his job.

“And where he lives is on a slope – he wouldn’t be able to get out of his street on his wheelchair.”

A spokesman for the DWP said: “We are 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 claimant and their GP or medical specialist.

“Anyone who is unhappy with their decision can keep their vehicle for up to six months while they await their mandatory reconsideration or appeal.



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