The Motability Scheme
Disability Rights UK Factsheet F17
Motability was established to provide disabled people with safe, reliable and affordable cars. You can use this scheme to hire or buy a car or powered wheelchair or scooter if you have been awarded any of:
- disability living allowance (DLA) high rate mobility component
- personal independence payment (PIP) enhanced mobility component
- armed forces independence payment
- war pensioners’ mobility supplement
In the case of PIP and DLA the award must usually be for long enough to complete the full length of the chosen agreement (see 'Length of PIP and DLA awards’ below).
You can apply for a car as a passenger if you are eligible but don’t drive. A parent or carer can apply on behalf of a child who is receiving an award. Proposed drivers must not have any serious driving convictions, disqualifications, or endorsements within the last five years. There are also some restrictions on drivers under 25 and those with provisional licences.
Motability also provides grants for driving lessons.
Motability offers a choice of:
- A new car on a three-year contract hire lease.
- A new or used car on hire purchase, over a term of two to five years.
- A new or used powered wheelchair, or scooter on hire purchase, over a term of one to three years.
- Once you have chosen which scheme you wish to join, you must then agree to pay over all, or part, of your allowance to it.
By far the most popular choice is the contract hire scheme, which offers customers a new car from a list of approved manufacturers, on a three-year lease. All maintenance and servicing costs are included, together with comprehensive insurance and breakdown assistance.
You do not have to be the driver of the car. You can instead apply for a car as a passenger and nominate two other people as your drivers. You can also apply to the scheme if you have a child aged three or older, who is entitled to DLA high rate mobility component.
Motability has introduced the following limitations to the scheme:
- They will only offer only cars with an Advance Payment of £2,000 or less. You will still be able to get help above this level if your disability-related needs require it.
- Your nominated driver must live within 5 miles of you. Motability also will not accept nominated drivers under the age of 21 unless they live with you.
- Motability will require a Statement of Responsibilities to be signed at the beginning of each lease by you, the nominated drivers and the supplying motor dealer.
- Young drivers under the age of 25 are restricted to cars in ABI Insurance Group 16 or lower which also have a power output of 115 BHP or less.
In order to help you choose a scheme that suits you Motability publish information about the pros and cons of different schemes, price guides, lists of dealers and guidance on choosing a car.
If you are aged between 16 and 24, Motability may provide help towards the cost of your driving lessons. Motability will not pay for either the theory or practical driving test.
Adaptations to cars
There is a range of car adaptations available including steering wheel knobs, hand controls for brakes and accelerators and wheelchair hoists. It is important to choose a car suitable for the adaptations you require so check with a Motability accredited specialist before ordering your car.
Motability also runs a Specialised Vehicles Fund which helps the most severely disabled people to lease a suitable vehicle. These leases are typically for five years for wheelchair accessible vehicles or heavily adapted cars.
The cost of adaptations, plus fitting and removal, may not be included in your lease. You will have to pay for these yourself.
You may have to pay more if you need a larger car due to your circumstances or your disability needs . If so, you will be asked to make an additional up-front payment known as an Advance Payment to cover the additional costs over a more basic model.
If you cannot afford the car or the adaptations, Motability may be able to provide help towards the cost of the least expensive solution that would meet your mobility needs.
A Motability accredited specialist must carry out adaptations fitted to a Motability car. Your Motability supplier and their insurers need to be informed before you go ahead with the fittings.
You will have to pay for the fuel you use, so it is worth calculating likely fuel costs before making a decision on which car to have. Car manufacturers publish details to guide you. The higher the miles per gallon figure, the further you can drive on the same amount of fuel.
Excess mileage cost
If you opt for a three-year contract hire lease, you are entitled to drive 60,000 miles over the three-year period of your agreement – 20,000 each year. When the car is returned, you will have to pay 5p per mile for any extra mileage used.
Road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty) and insurance
All vehicles on the road are liable to Vehicle Excise Duty, better known as road tax. You will be sent a tax disc each year (unless you are in Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man) as part of your agreement.
As part of your contract hire lease you should also receive insurance cover and free replacement tyres and windscreens when needed.
Length of PIP and DLA awards
To hire a new car, your award should usually run for at least 3 years. However Motability can allow access to those in receipt of awards with 12 months or more remaining. If your award is not renewed to cover the full length of the chosen scheme, the car will need to be returned to Motability. This gives customers around three months between the cancellation of the allowance and the return-by date, during which the lease can be paid privately, so that there is time available to arrange an alternative car.
To buy on hire purchase, your award needs to run for at least 2 years if you buy a used car, or at least 4 years if you buy a new car.
Requesting an extension of your PIP or DLA award
The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for awarding DLA and PIP. If you are unable to access the Motability Scheme because your award is not long enough but your mobility problems are unlikely to change or may actually get worse, you can ask for your award to be extended.
Great care needs to be taken when considering this option because it is always possible that an award may be reduced or lost altogether. If you receive any care component of DLA or daily living component of PIP, a decision-maker could also decide to question your entitlement to those as well. If you decide to ask for your award to be extended seek specialist advice from an advice agency or law centre first (see Factsheet F15 - Getting advice).
Transitional support if you fail PIP
If you were on DLA and getting a Motability car but fail the PIP enhanced mobility component test you can get the following help:
- Your DLA payment will continue for four weeks after they make their decision regarding your PIP claim.
- The Motability Scheme will allow you to keep your vehicle for up to a further 3 weeks from the date the DLA payments end.
You can also get transitional support from Motability, though to qualify for this you must return your car to the dealership in good condition and within the agreed timeframe.
This support varies according to your circumstances:
- If you entered into your first lease agreement with the Scheme before January 2013 you will be paid transitional support of £2,000.
- If you entered into your first lease agreement with the Scheme after January 2013 and up to December 2013, you will get transitional support of £1,000.
Motability will also offer you the chance to buy your vehicle following the end of your lease. You can use your transitional payments towards the purchase price.
If you need a vehicle with adaptations, Motability will help you with the costs of fitting the same adaptations to a non-Scheme vehicle.
If you have made an Advance Payment (an additional upfront payment to lease a larger or more complex vehicle on the Scheme), any refund will be made on a pro-rata basis.
Scheme suppliers, including Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc (RSA) and RAC, will provide general information on motoring, insurance and other motoring services outside of the Scheme, including information on buying a new or used car, and arranging insurance and other services such as breakdown cover.
Motability is also working with a leading UK insurance broker who will offer insurance quotes to former Scheme customers that will recognise their no-claims history on the Scheme.
If you have a wheelchair accessible vehicle any help or support given will be on a case by case basis to enable Motability to understand and assist with your future mobility arrangements including, where appropriate, enabling you to keep your current vehicle.
The Motability Scheme will also provide a package of support and advice if you are currently leasing a scooter or powered wheelchair, with the objective of allowing you to retain your vehicle wherever possible.
As the DWP plans to begin reassessments of existing DLA recipients in October 2013 and each reassessment will take several months to complete, Motability do not expect any Scheme customers to become eligible for this support until 2014.
For general enquiries about all Motability schemes:
City Gate House
22 Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HB
Telephone: 0845 456 4566 textphone: 0845 675 0009
Lines are open 8.30am-5.30pm, Monday to Friday. You can also send an email from the Motability site at www.motability.co.uk
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
Telephone: 0300 790 6802 - From 8.00 am to 7.00 pm Monday to Friday; From 8.00 am to 2.00 pm Saturday
Driver and vehicle agency (Northern Ireland)
Telephone 0845 402 4000
Where can I get more help or information?
This factsheet is a basic overview of the Motability Scheme. You can find out more detailed information in our Disability Rights Handbook. This and all our other publications are available from our shop at www.radar-shop.org.uk/. You can also place orders by contacting Disability Rights UK on 020 7250 3222 (this is not an advice line) or by fax on 020 7247 8765.
You can get help and information at your local advice centre, such as a Citizens Advice Bureau. You can get more information about where to get personal advice from our Factsheet F15 - Getting advice. All our factsheets are free to download on our website at www.disabilityrightsuk.org.
We have also produced a guide called Doing Transport Differently to let people with any kind of disability – learning difficulties, mental health conditions, visual impairments, hearing impairments, wheelchair users, mobility impairments and more – know what kind of access is out there, how to plan your journeys, and what to do if things go wrong. The guide is written by and for disabled people and is full of travellers’ tales – real experiences of using trains, buses, coaches, undergrounds, light railways, ferries and more.
22 October 2013