The scheme has been running since the late Seventies, when the Government introduced a mobility allowance for the disabled. Whilst the original payment received criticism as being inadequate to fund any realistic transport, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Services requested the late Lord Goodman to work on a workable alternative. Motability was established in 1977 as a direct result of this work and the first Motability car was delivered in 1978.
The scheme is open to recipients of the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance, the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement (WPMS) or the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP), who can use their mobility allowance to fund or part-fund a car, a scooter or a powered wheelchair.
Motability expanded upon the original concept by providing a complete mobility solution, including special adaptations to vehicles where necessary. There is a huge range of vehicles available and various modifications (currently over 2,000 vehicles), with regular additions to the range. Depending upon your particular needs, cars may need to be specially adapted for steering, access, hand and foot controls, visibility or for stowage of items such as wheelchairs, the cost of which is included as part of the scheme. Furthermore, for disabled people who don’t want to or who are unable to drive themselves, the programme allows nominated drivers such as family members or carers to take the wheel.
Motability works on a car leasing rather than ownership basis, renewed every three years. This means that most vehicles are available without any initial deposit. In addition, insurance, maintenance and servicing, taxation, breakdown assistance, replacement tyres and glass are all covered as part of the scheme up to a 60,000 mile limit. The participant needs only to cover the cost of fuel.
The initial stage involves choosing a potential vehicle and dealership from the network of 5,000 UK Motability specialists and then arranging a discovery visit. You will be guided through an extensive Motability Suitability Questionnaire and will get the chance to explore in more detail the cars you are considering. Remember to take any mobility aids such as wheelchairs with you on this visit, so you can check size and accessibility with specific vehicles and test drive the cars you are considering to make sure they are comfortable and appropriate for your needs.
The scheme is so tremendously accessible that more than three million disabled people have used it since its conception, with 600,000 current participants. All the major manufacturers adhere to the scheme, which provides specialist training to dealerships. This means you can find a Motability dealership near you anywhere in the country which will have all the information you need to discover if you are eligible to participate in the scheme and help you choose a suitable vehicle.
Anthony Miller has three decades of experience writing for a range of auto websites and publications, with a special focus on the benefits of Motability.