motability - a very moving experience

the motability scheme has helped thousands of disabled people get mobile. we look at the current scheme and answer some of the most frequently asked questions

Claiming a benefit due to you isn't always as easy as it seems. Means tests, endless form filling and jumping through countless bureaucratic hoops sees millions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed each year. The Motability scheme likes to do things differently and has consistently widened its choice of cars available to disabled drivers.

In July 2014 changes were made to the Motability Scheme which currently represents 6% of all new car sales in the UK. It's now focused entirely on contract hire. Motability dropped its Hire Purchase option from 1st July 2014 as this did not include the insurance, breakdown cover, servicing and tyre replacement available through its Contract Hire package. However, customers who had a Hire Purchase agreement in place prior to July 1st 2014 have and will continued to be supported through until the end of their current arrangements.

The Motability Scheme enables disabled people to lease a new car using their Government funded mobility allowance. If you receive the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which has replaced the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for disabled people aged between 16 and 64, the War Pensioners' Mobility Supplement (WPMS) or the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP), you may be eligible to join the Motability Scheme. Children from the age of three and non-drivers can also apply for cars as passengers, provided they receive the correct allowance.

Customers simply transfer their mobility allowance to lease a suitable vehicle. Motability's Contract Hire Scheme includes insurance, tyre and windscreen replacement, servicing, breakdown cover and road tax.

No waiting lists, credit checks or medical assessments are required. Joining the Scheme is pretty straightforward - you simply need to make your choice of car and order it at your local dealership but do visit a number of dealers to look at different makes and models, and have a really thorough test drive. No extra assessments or credit checks are required.

Insurance is also taken care of when acquiring a car through the Contract Hire Scheme. It includes breakdown cover, servicing, maintenance, car tax and more but it's surprising how many people are still unaware that all these things are included in the worry-free package. Changing to a new car when the time comes is also made as easy as possible with a seamless transfer. You simply keep your old car until the new one is ready. If you have medium-to-heavy adaptations for your disability, you may be able to keep your car for longer by extending the lease, or arrange to transfer the adaptations to your new vehicle. There's no reason why any Motability customers should be left car-less between leases - unless, that is, you are on holiday and would prefer that arrangement.

Motability isn't a Government department but it does work very closely with the Department for Work and Pensions. The Scheme is overseen by Motability, a registered charity, and the Car Scheme is operated by Motability Operations, which is a private business owned by the major clearing banks. All profits are ploughed back into the business for the benefit of the customers.

Motability customers needn't worry about hostile dealers either. During its existence, the scheme has transformed relationships with the dealerships that provide cars to their customers, which has ensured that consistent standards apply across the country. As a result, dealers are keen to provide higher service levels and are encouraged to go the extra mile. They have lots of positive feedback, but if there is an occasional problem, the charity is keen to hear about it.

Motability customers cross the spectrum in age, location and family circumstances. Perhaps the larger group are gathered in the 45 - 65 age bracket, but customers are as young as three and as old as 100. A small percentage are wheelchair users; others may use a stick or simply be able to walk unaided only for a short distance. What's not widely appreciated is that you don't even need to be able to drive to take advantage of the scheme. Many Motability customers prefer not to drive or are unable to. In all cases, whether the customer drives or not, they can nominate two people to drive the car on their behalf. They may be relatives, friends or carers.

The substantial savings to be made by choosing a Motability car mean that this really is the most affordable way to get motoring. You need to consider the full cost of running your own car, including insurance, breakdown and repairs, which can hit you when you least expect it. All this is included with the Contract Hire Scheme and most Motability customers enjoy these benefits, which add up to a big saving and for most people, this saving provides a better deal than owning their own car.

Here's why. If you are a Contract Hire customer, tyres are provided and fitted free of charge. Regular servicing and repairs are carried out and paid for by Motability. Car windows and windscreens are also replaced at no cost to you. You will only need to budget for fuel and topping up engine oil between services.

The range of makes and models available on the Scheme is greater than it has ever been - there's now something for almost every taste and budget. The variety of cars includes Mini-MPVs, family cars, 4x4s and even convertibles. There are around 3,000 different cars available, including many models with no advance payment although if you go for a more expensive model, you'll need to make up the shortfall between your allowance and the car's cost out of your own pocket. You'll also need to fund any modifications required to the car. There's even a cash bonus for users who keep their car in good order. Motorists who make no loss, damage or third party claims during their hire agreement, and who maintain the car in good condition, will be eligible to receive the 'Good Condition Bonus'.

When an offer is this good, it would be folly not to take advantage of it. The Scheme has come a long way since its inception and continues to provide disabled people with the mobility that previous generations could only dream of.