Motoring is really important for disabled people aiming to retain their independence. The Motability Scheme was set up specifically to support that notion. Its excellence has stood the test of time and helped thousands of disabled motorists since it was set up in the late 1970’s.

If you’re unfamiliar with Motability, it’s well worth looking into. The Scheme allows disabled people to use certain disability benefits to lease a car (powered wheelchair or scooter).

motability-logo

Disabled people that receive either Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (HRMC DLA), the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (ERMC PIP), the War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement (WPMS) or the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) may be eligible to join the Motability Scheme. The Scheme operates by effectively allowing disabled people to exchange their mobility allowance in return for a vehicle.

According to Motability, they help over 640,000 disabled people and their families benefit from mobility through using the Scheme. Although Motability customers, in the main, are simply using their disability benefits as a means of funding a vehicle, the Motability scheme is actually a charity, that was set up by the Government (with cross party support) to help disabled people with their mobility needs. Not only does Motability manage the Government’s Specialised Vehicles Fund (which includes adapted cars) but it also raises money for the purpose of awarding charitable grants to provide extra financial help to people whose allowance does not cover the cost of the mobility solution they need.

Motability aims to provide what they term as “worry free” mobility solutions for disabled people by not only presenting a wide selection of vehicles (currently numbering over 2,400 models) but by including routine maintenance, insurance and breakdown cover (including tyres and windscreen replacement), renewal of vehicle tax, 60,000 mileage allowance over three years and many types of adaptations at no extra cost; in other words, items that will not only keep disabled people on the road but will also give them peace of mind as well.

How It All Works:

The best place to start is by either looking at the Motability website or contacting a dealership that participates in the Motability Scheme. They will be able to talk generally about the choices of vehicles available to you (although a dealership is likely to only want to steer you towards a vehicle from their own stable – a Peugeot dealership will clearly want you to lease a Peugeot vehicle, for example).

Leasing

Your lease payments will be met by your benefit which will then be paid directly to Motability. Some cars are subject to an advance payment – if this proves unaffordable the Motability charitable fund or another specialist organisation might be able to step in to help.

The lease on a Motability car usually lasts for three years. This is good news since it means you’ll be driving a new car after your lease expires and because the cars are not very old will be both efficient and reliable.

Circumstances

Disabled people should note that Motability cars are leased on the understanding that they are purely for their benefit. In other words, other than providing you with regular travel to and from your workplace (which must be approved in advance), they are not to be used for business purposes. Even so, you are allowed to select up to two other people as ‘named drivers’. This will help enormously if you find yourself unfit to drive from time-to-time – or indeed, if you’ve never learnt to drive – there’s no reason for you to miss out on the benefits of mobility. Your named driver(s) must live within five miles of your home and only one of them can be under 21 (and they must live at your home address).

Dealership

Once you’ve got an idea of the type of vehicle you’re looking for, you’ll be able to select an appropriate dealership and set up an appointment to speak with them about using Motability. (Some will provide a home visit or give you a lift to the showroom.)

Test drive

This is essential. It isn’t just about how the vehicle feels on the road but you’ll need to see if you can access and exit it comfortably and safely and whether it is suitable to carry any equipment you take around with you (such as a wheelchair or standing frame).

Visiting more than one dealership might help you to spot different advantages with specific vehicles or confirm your initial thoughts. Either way, it’s good to know that you’ve had a look around and made a selection from a variety of vehicles.

Checklist

As part of the decision making process, it isn’t unusual for the dealership to help you to fill in a Motability Suitability Questionaire. This again, will help to confirm that the vehicle you have in mind is right for you.

Order

Once you’ve finalised your decision and have a specific vehicle in mind you’ll be able to make your order. At this point you’ll need to present your certificate of entitlement from the Department of Work and Pensions as well as proof of your identity. You sign your lease agreement on the day you collect or have your vehicle delivered – but most dealerships will show you around the features of the vehicle before handing it over.

Drive

Start her up and off you go.

How the Motability Scheme can be accessed by benefits claimants

Because Motability is a government supported charitable organisation it is a reliable partner and generous backer of disability motorists.

As with any government support, including benefits, there are criteria that need to be met. For disabled people that want to use the Motability Scheme it means exchanging either the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (HRMC DLA) or the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (ERMC PIP).

Because PIP is a relatively new benefit and is currently being transitioned, awards are matched with the equivalent DLA at £57.45 per week. These allowances, provided by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) can be used in any way beneficiaries wish but are used by lots of disabled people to fund the lease costs of a Motability vehicle. (The only stipulation in using them is that you must have at least 12 months’ award length left – even though a lease on a Motability vehicle lasts for three years.)

With the eligibility criteria being linked to benefits that are neither taxed nor based on means testing it means that disabled people requiring support are not denied the help they require on financial grounds. In other words, earning too much or too little is not relevant when it comes to claiming Motability entitlement. Some people might argue that those earning more should be entitled to less but that isn’t currently the case and anyway, there can be no telling that those people won’t see their circumstances change – and have an impact on their ability to earn.

Motability also realises that buying or leasing a car isn’t the only expense associated with motoring and to that end includes other potentially expensive items such as maintenance and insurance into the package. Motability is able to do this without too much impact on the customer by using its ‘bulk’ purchasing power – which has been observed by other organisations trying to help disabled people. The Scheme remains fair and generous in that it supplies a broad package of benefits, to all that need them and clearly, without known (or unknown) prejudice against disabled people, as is the case with other finance or insurance companies for example.

There are times when Motability’s links with benefits can be inconvenient. Disabled people on the Scheme who are admitted to hospital, for example, need to be careful that they do not breach the terms of their lease (or other benefits payments) that do not cover them if they are away from home for an extended length of time. Generally speaking, DWP do not make payments of DLA care and mobility components after a disabled person has been in hospital for 28 days or more (84 days for children under 16). Payments resume once the disabled person comes out of hospital. This means that as soon as you are admitted to hospital, you should notify DWP of your change in circumstances.

If you are in hospital for more than 28 days, you or somebody acting on your behalf should also contact Motability to discuss your individual circumstances. Depending on the expected length of your hospital stay and, of course, your own preferences, they will discuss appropriate arrangements with you.

Although the amount of benefit exchanged for Motability purposes is significant it is still largely affordable, especially given that there are plenty of vehicles for which there is no upfront (advance) payment. Furthermore there is also plenty of information about individual models’ capabilities regarding miles per gallon and other figures that can be used to find a vehicle that might be less expensive to run over the lease period. This means that Motability is able to provide solutions to people that do not have savings or need to direct their income into other things such as equipment and extra heating costs and so on, so often associated with disability.

Motability really does represent a fair and generous usage for disability benefits.