Whinburgh teenager’s driving setback
- Credit: IAN BURT
A couple is calling for support after changes in disability allowance have left their son unable to learn to drive.
Daniel Gotts, who lives near Dereham, is 17 but cannot learn to drive like everyone else his age because he suffers from a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia, which does not qualify for high level mobility funding.
His parents, Susan and Chris, have taken the issue through the courts –and have won the backing of a Norfolk MP – but have been told that because their eldest son can walk, he does not qualify for the level of disability benefit which would supply him with a modified car.
Now, the family is hoping to attract sponsors to help them buy an adapted vehicle to finally allow Daniel the chance to get his L plates.
Susan,who works part-time as a negotiator for an estate agents, said: 'He can't learn to drive until he has the adaptations but because the laws have changed, we can't get any funding towards the adaptations.
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'We are really pleased that Daniel can walk but he is getting to the age where he wants to be mobile, which is what most children at 17 are looking to do. We just wondered if there were any sponsors out there for children.'
Chris, a parts sales rep, added: 'It would be superb for him if he could drive. It's like a half-way house.
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'If you can walk, you can't get high rate mobility funding and you have to be on high rate to get a car.'
At 4ft 5in, Daniel would need his own car with special adaptations including pedal extensions, a raised footwell and back support.
The adaptations are thought to cost between £1,000 and £2,000.
Being able to drive would enable Daniel to get to Easton College, where he studies animal management, and back from his home in Whinburgh and to his voluntary job at Cats Protection in Longham.
At the moment, he has to rely on his parents to take him to the bus stop or on lifts from friends or colleagues.
Walking to the bus stop is not an option as the closest bus stop is in the next village, Yaxham, and, on a good day, Daniel can walk just 200 metres.
The teenager, who also has spinal stenosis, said driving would give him greater independence.
'It would make me feel free and more like an adult,' he said.
'I would be able to do my own thing and not be restricted to a time limit.'
Changes were made to the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in April this year when it was replaced by a new benefit called Personal Independent Payment (PIP).
Under the changes, the enhanced rate of the benefit is only available to people who can move less than 20 metres without assistance.
Anyone who is judged to have the ability to move more than 50 metres is ineligible for mobility benefit, unless they also have problems with planning and following journeys.
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