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    Henry James

    AN online appeal has been launched on behalf of the mother of a disabled Skelmersdale youngster to fund a legal challenge to a tribunal ruling refusing her claim for children’s higher rate mobility benefit.

    Helena Simpkin, whose daughter Toni has Down’s syndrome with complex learning difficulties, previously received £61.20 per week for the youngster which she used to finance a Motability car.

    This was a vital lifeline for the single mum and 12-year-old Toni, who has pins fitted in her hips and is unable to walk very far.

    However Helena saw Toni’s benefit slashed to £23.20 following a ruling by a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) tribunal, meaning she can no longer afford a Motability car.

    Now Helena’s friend Joanne Taylor has launched a GoFundMe page in a bid to raise the £950 needed to engage a specialist solicitor to challenge the DWP decision.

    Joanne told the Champion: “To know Toni is to love her and Helena, who is a single parent, is a really devoted mum.

    “Toni’s claim for children’s higher rate mobility was refused by a tribunal hearing in Wigan last week reducing the amount she gets to less than half what it was previously and Helena now can’t get a Motability car, which is a huge lifeline.”

    Throughout her short life, Toni has had to endure numerous procedures, including a heart operation. And in November last year she had an operation to fit pins in her hips, severely affecting her mobility.

    A specialist has confirmed to Helena that this will be an ongoing issue as Toni will need to have larger pins fitted as she grows while at the moment there is no improvement in her walking.

    Joanne added: “The DWP state that Toni will be “better” by now and claim she will be improved going forward so doesn’t need sufficient enough help to be awarded the higher rate mobility.

    “But apart from the issues with her hips, Toni’s learning difficulties mean that she does need substantial assistance getting around. She doesn’t have any of the independence, other high school students have. She attends a special school and has to have a specialist buggy there.

    “If Disability Living Allowance and mobility, isn’t for disabled people like Toni then who is it for?

    “This decision by the DWP has put immense emotional strain on her mum who obviously just wants what’s best for Toni now and going forward.

    “Toni has a lifelong disability and we need to ensure this decision is overruled, so that she gets all the help she’s entitled to now and in the future.”

    Anyone wishing to donate to the appeal should visit www.gofundme.com and type Skelmersdale in the search box.

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