Stroke sufferer’s benefit cut

Gillian Rutherford with friend Margaret Elliot, son and daughter Ryan and Becky Rutherford
Gillian Rutherford with friend Margaret Elliot, son and daughter Ryan and Becky Rutherford

A disabled Bearsden woman who suffered a stroke when she was seven is to appeal against a decision to take away her mobility car.

Gillian Rutherford (49) was re-assessed recently by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), under new guidelines for her Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that concluded she could walk between 20 and 50 metres. However, Mrs Rutherford maintains that she has never been able to walk more than 20 metres and has now asked the DWP to look at her request to keep her specially adapted car.

The single mother of three teenage children, who works as a bookkeeper, said: “I had a stroke when I was seven years old and am paralysed down the right side of my body and would find it a struggle without my car. My reason for making this request relates specifically to the mobility component of the PIP. I said that I am unable to walk 20 metres even with the use of a walking stick and feel that this had not been fully or appropriately considered in making this decision.

“The stroke I had destroyed a third of my brain and left me with a level of paralysis down my right hand side and which, over the last 43 years, has put significant strain on my body. My mobility has become increasingly difficult, painful and debilitating.”

Mrs Rutherford is determined to get the decision reversed and has been to see her doctor and occupational therapist, who are to provide letters of support. She has also written to her local MP John Nicolson.

In her letter to Mr Nicolson she said: “I am now facing the prospect of losing my car by August 4.

“Even if my appeal is successful, I have been told it could be up to eight months before my car is reinstated. How can this possibly be fair? I face losing my income, my independence and my ability to go out with my kids and friends.”

A Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “This decision was made after considering all the evidence provided by Ms Rutherford, as part of her application. As requested, we will carry out a reconsideration of the decision when we receive the additional information Ms Rutherford is providing.”