Kesgrave teenager Kim Sale who lost leg to cancer could face losing car that gives her independence
A brave Kesgrave teenager who lost a leg to cancer hit headlines for passing her driving test a year early but she may now face losing that independence – and her beloved car.
Kim Sale was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, an extremely rare form of bone cancer, in 2015 and was dealt a devastating blow shortly after she turned 15 when doctors revealed they would have to amputate her leg.
The operation gave her the best chance of surviving and during her rehab a nurse pointed out that because she received a higher rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) she may be eligible to drive at 16 under the Motability scheme.
Kim was assessed in June 2017 and told she did indeed qualify – and within six weeks of turning 16 she passed her test first time.
Motability supplied her with a specially adapted Fiat 500 and since passing in November she has enjoyed her new-found freedom.
But this weekend the teenager’s mother, Kellie Thorndyke, received a letter warning that because Kim had not met criteria to receive the higher rate of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Motability would have to withdraw the car.
DLA recipients have to re-apply for PIP when they turn 16 – and an assessment carried out on Kim by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently scored her 10 points out of 12 for mobility, which means she does not qualify for a higher rate of payment.
Kim said last night: “I am devastated that the DWP have decided I am no longer eligible for a Motability vehicle.
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“My vehicle has helped me regain confidence in my life that was ripped away from me when I was diagnosed with cancer and lost my leg.
It has allowed me to get to and from school, the gym, being able to go out and meet up with friends that I am otherwise isolated from – all the things that any person would want to enjoy as part of their life.
She added: “The impact of not having the vehicle is going to have a huge negative effect on my life.”
In a letter seen by this newspaper, Motability said Kim’s mother Kellie has the option to buy the car back – at a cost of £9,400 – but unless she can afford that, the car will be withdrawn.
She said: “The points scoring system is extremely flawed.
“Kim can potentially move further on a good day than others because she has worked on her fitness and is young. On a bad day though, she is just the same.
“Being independent has meant that she can travel to and from school in her vehicle, go to the gym to work on her physical fitness, attend training sessions with her disability athletics club and secure a part time job alongside her studies.”
Mrs Thorndyke added: “All of this will be taken away from her when the car is returned.
“The nearest bus stop to us is nearly half a mile away – so how is she supposed to get to that?
“Her job requires her to have transport due to its location, so she will no longer be able to work.
“She will not be able to get to school unless in a taxi, which she has to pay for as she lives within the three mile radius she is not entitled to assistance from the local council for transport.”
A spokesman for Motability said they would not comment on individual cases.
A DWP spokesman said: “Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant.
“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.”
For more details about the Motability scheme and PIP, visit the Department for Work and Pensions website.