Despite the Motability scheme being introduced as early as 1978 in the UK, many people are still unaware that this taxpayer-funded programme exists, and some people with disabilities across the country may be eligible for support in terms of transportation without even realising it.
What most of us do know is that the government-issued mobility allowance can be used to make life in the home much easier, such as being used to fund equipment and technology like grab rails or a stairlift for disabled homeowners, but these payments can also be used to fund, or partly fund, vehicles and equipment to assist with mobility outside of the home, too.
The Motability scheme is a joint venture between the government and a not-for-profit charity, aiming to provide a better quality of life for those who struggle to get around.
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Am I Eligible?
Motability claims that there are already a whopping 630,000 people in the UK taking advantage of the scheme, but there are thought to be many more disabled Brits who are missing out on a chance for funded assistance.
You are eligible to join the Motability scheme is you receive any of the following:
- Higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance. This equates to £55.25 per week according to current government figures.
- Enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment – also totalling £55.25 per week.
- Armed Forces Independence Payment, currently at £134.40 per week.
- War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement at £60.40 per week, or £3152 per year for Officers.
Believe it or not, you don’t need to be able to drive, or even be of driving age, to be eligible for inclusion in the scheme. Formal or informal carers who live within 5 miles of the scheme member, or parents of disabled children receiving any of the above benefits can be added as named drivers. This allows for carers, friends, or family members to assist in running errands, travelling to hospital appointments, and making it easy for both disabled adults and children to partake in social activities. A portion of mobility allowance can be exchanged for a contract car, or for a specially adapted car for those in wheelchairs or with other more advanced requirements.
Hire or Buy: Which is Best?
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Under the scheme, cars can either be hired through motability dealers who work with big name car brands such as Vauxhall, or the vehicle can be purchased outright. The big question is, which is better? Which.co.uk reports that around 95 percent of scheme members opt to hire their vehicle, and for good reason. When hiring, users receive a new vehicle every three years (or every five years if hiring an adapted vehicle), along with car insurance, breakdown cover from the RAC, all servicing, maintenance, repairs, and minor adaptations depending upon individual circumstance – all included within the hire price. When buying outright, scheme members will not receive any of these benefits.
The Motability scheme isn’t just focused upon vehicles. It’s not about providing ‘free’ transportation, nor is it about abusing privileges. Ultimately, it’s about making it easier for disabled people to carry on living ‘normally’ outside of the home, as well as inside. At home, there is a confidence instilled by familiarity and personalisation, whereas venturing outside with restricted mobility or poor balance can be nerve wracking. This is why Motability also includes a range of other services, including financial assistance towards driving lessons for disabled teenagers, funding towards a mobility scooter, or help in purchasing or leasing an electric-powered wheelchair.
Sadly, there has been some bad press regarding mobility car allowance in recent years, with news stories focusing upon those who abuse the scheme. However, don’t let this deter you. As mobility issues are becoming more thoroughly understood, and more widely catered for in the UK, we’re starting to see more and more resources available for those with disabilities, and more changes happening to make life easier, to make it more straightforward. If additional assistance is available to you, then make the most of it, you never know where it may lead.
This article has been provided by Acorn Stairlifts, a comprehensive resource for those with restricted mobility who are interested in stairlifts and advice regarding mobility.