If you’re disabled, you’ll know just how many people are able to take their independence for granted. Being able to go where you want, when you want is a freedom that not everyone has, and you might have to rely on friends, loved ones and carers for even the simplest of tasks; such as going grocery shopping, for example. However, there are ways you can access life-changing funding for cars and scooters, largely through the UK’s Motability scheme.
How Motability Works
To qualify for a vehicle, you need to meet the Motability scheme rules. This means you need to be in receipt of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or the higher rate of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Historically, everyone with a disability could apply for DLA, but since April 2013, this has gradually been replaced with PIP for new claimants who are 16 years old and over.
If you’re moved to PIP and find yourself on a lower rate, you no longer qualify for the Motability scheme. However, if you’ve already leased a car, there is some transitional help available. For example, a one-off payment of around £2,000 may be offered when you return the vehicle. Alternatively, you might be able to purchase the car at a reduced cost.
If you haven’t yet got a vehicle, and want to make use of DLA mobility cars, there are several ways to meet eligibility conditions for the Motability scheme. If you don’t receive the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the DLA, you may still qualify if you receive the Enhanced Rate Mobility Component or the War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement of PIP. As long as your request is approved, you can use your payments to fund disability mobility cars, scooters or powered wheelchairs.
The Motability Scheme provides grants for a car through a leasing initiative which last three years, or five years if you need a vehicle with wheelchair accessibility. The cost of leasing includes servicing expenses, RAC breakdown assistance, maintenance and insurance cover for two drivers. As part of the leasing agreement you can drive for up to 20,000 miles every year, with a charge of 5p per mile for any extra travelling you do.
There are more than 450 cars available on DLA payments which require no advanced payment at all. However, the choice of car is ultimately up to you, but if it costs more than your mobility allowance allows, you will need to make an advanced payment, often at personal expense.
Mobility Car Adaptations
For a lot of disabled people, vehicle adaptations are essential. Swivel seats may be required, for example, or hoists might be needed so you can get in and out of your vehicle. Many of these adaptations are completely free, whilst others have a cost attached; all of which you can find out on the Motability website.
When you first purchase your car through the scheme, you’ll be able to take advantage of the Managed Adaptations Programme. If you need to make changes to your vehicle once you’ve already leased your vehicle you’ll have to pay the expense yourself, either from personal funds or by fundraising. Motability do offer a grant scheme which may be of help too. Any adaptations must be both supplied and fitted by an official partner of the scheme so as not to invalidate your leasing agreement.
The Motability grants department can offer financial help with mobility car adaptations if you’re unable to pay for essential changes yourself. The organisation provides millions of pounds in grants to thousands of families every year, so you could well be able to get help. This is a separate operation to providing vehicles via government payments, and could help top up any financial gap between your benefit payments and the cost of your vehicle.
Grants can be used for a variety of things, including advance payments, driving lessons if you’re under 25 and adaptations. They can also be offered to help cover the cost of more expensive vehicles. It should be noted that grants will only be offered to help with the least costly option, and you’ll also need to have your circumstances checked. For a full breakdown of grants, eligibility and the use for grant money, visit the Motability scheme’s official grant page.
Free Cars for Disabled People
If you’re disabled and craving independence, but do not have the financial means to buy your own car, the Motability scheme could be ideal. As long as you meet the eligibility criteria, this initiative can provide cars, scooters and wheelchairs at no personal cost; in fact, if there’s any excess mobility allowance remaining, it will be paid to you directly. And, with grants also available to fund adaptations and other essential requirements, you could soon find yourself with more personal freedom than ever before.