STUDENT Olivia Cork has been told she is ‘not disabled enough’ to keep her specially adapted Motability car – despite having lost a leg to cancer.
The 19-year-old was told her specially-adapted vehicle was being taken away from her following Government changes to disability benefits.
Olivia – who was diagnosed with cancer aged 14 – was left distraught at the possibility of losing the car, which allows her to lead a full and independent life.
Olivia, who lives in Newchapel, said: “Taking away the car would be taking away my lifeline. Without it I don’t know what I would do.”
The teenager had her right leg amputated above the knee after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma – a form of bone cancer – in January 2011.
Cancer-free for the last four years, Olivia now studies at Alsager Sixth Form, works part-time in a pharmacy and a pub and competes for two swimming clubs.
On top of this, she also volunteers her time for charities including Teenage Cancer Trust, Macmillan and Cancer Research.
She has been using her Ford Fiesta Motability car to get to all these commitments since passing her test two years ago, but was told by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that she was no longer eligible for it. The decision follows changes to the Disability Living Allowance, which has been replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Olivia, who does not receive any benefits other than the car, said: “Because I can walk 20 metres I’m not classed as being disabled enough. I was gutted. I use the car all the time. I couldn’t get to swimming training at 6am without it, and I don’t know how I would get to sixth form and work.
“It’s not that I think I’m entitled to it – I know it is a privilege – but PIP is supposed to help people to be independent and it is taking that away from me.”
Following the decision by the DWP, a Crowdfunder page was set up online to help Olivia raise the £5,500 she needs to buy the car outright and insure it.
The total raised has now topped £6,000 in just over a week, meaning Olivia will get to keep her car.
She said: “It is phenomenal. To have that support is amazing.”
Her mum, Fiona Gibson, said the family was ‘so thankful’ to those who had donated. But the 48-year-old said she was disgusted by the DWP’s decision.
“It’s unbelievable that somebody with one leg is not classed as disabled enough,” she said. “Everybody we have spoken to is absolutely horrified.”
A DWP spokesman said yesterday: “Ms Cork was given the opportunity to appeal the decision regarding her claim for PIP but chose not to. We are working closely with Motability who are providing support to people leaving the scheme following reassessment.
“Motability have decided that the majority of people will be eligible for a one-off payment of £2,000, which will help ensure their mobility needs continue to be met.”