Derby

Derby man with dwarfism wins benefits battle

George Coppen with Colin Baker Image copyright George Coppen
Image caption George Coppen (left), pictured with former Doctor Who actor Colin Baker, has now joined the charity that helped him fight his case

A man with dwarfism and arthritis who had his benefits slashed and his car taken away has managed to overturn the government's decision at tribunal.

George Coppen, 19, who is 3ft 10ins (1.17m) tall, was told last year 75% of his payments would be stopped.

Mr Coppen, whose car was taken a week before his driving test, won his case at a hearing in his home city of Derby.

The government said decisions are often overturned "because claimants provide more evidence".

Updates on this story and more from Derbyshire

Mr Coppen, from Mickleover, was informed of the news by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) after he was reassessed for personal independence payments (PIPs) in November.

He fought his case with Disability Direct and has now joined the charity's board of trustees in the hope of helping other disabled people in similar situations.

"It was an absolute nightmare," he said. "I had my test a week later and I couldn't keep my car which was so annoying.

"I've got arthritis and metal rods in my back... it took away my independence."

Mr Coppen, who was able to use his instructor's car to pass his test, has urged similarly affected people to "carry on fighting".

Image copyright George Coppen
Image caption Mr Coppen (right) - pictured with Doctor Who writer Terrance Dicks - called his experience "an absolute nightmare"

Amo Raju, chief executive of Disability Direct in Derby, said he was "delighted" for Mr Coppen.

"He can be a massive inspiration in getting people to feel confident enough to take their cases on," Mr Raju said.

A DWP spokesman said: "Just because a new decision has been made at appeal stage, it does not mean the previous decision was incorrect.

"In the majority of appeal cases, decisions are overturned because claimants provide more evidence."

Nearly 14,000 disabled people who rely on a specialist motoring allowance have had their cars taken away following government welfare changes.

A row over PIPs sparked the resignation of former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith earlier this month.

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