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motability By Kat Twine*, Guest writer for Inpui.com

Individuals who suffer a disability and therefore rely on motor vehicles in order to live their lives have been the topic of a number of recent news stories. There are concerns that cars acquired from the Government funded Motability scheme are not being used by the disabled individual (or their careers) as intended and that the scheme also allows the affected to drive around in cars of a luxury standard such as BMWs.

Do the Able-Bodied Take Advantage?

The Motability scheme provides disabled drivers in the UK with an allowance of around £50 every week in order for them to lease a car. Said car is intended to be used by the disabled person in question and/or two other nominated individuals, of whom may be official carers or family members or alternatively; friends. The Evening Standard newspaper recently announced however that in “around half of incidences”’ (supposedly equating to 200,000 disabled vehicles) Motability vehicles are being used by non-nominated, able bodied individuals.

“Is the Motability scheme being abused? [...] In some cases yes. Certainly.", commented a Government source.

Policing this problem is quite difficult though. If pulled over, it is quite plausible for drivers to claim that they are simply undertaking some grocery shopping on behalf of the person registered as disabled - and it can be quite difficult for the authorities to prove otherwise.

Whilst the Motability scheme is no doubt useful in many circumstances, it is concerning that many of those who take advantage of the £18.2m (annual) scheme (incorrectly quoted as £1.4 billion by the Daily Mail) are claiming to be told as potential buyers that they may “use the car to their free will as long as it is occasionally used to the benefit of a disabled individual” (at least according to the previously cited research).

The same Government source stated that “The question for [the Government] is how can Motability be policed more efficiently” so hopefully the matter will be sensibly addressed soon. 

Do the Disabled Cruise in luxury Cars?

On the 20th of June, the Daily Mail claimed that those in receipt of the higher Disability Living Allowance bracket can drive away luxury cars funded by tax payers, branding the Motability scheme a “scam.” Whilst sensationalism sells, it is important to shine light on the truth of the matter.

Although there are around 4,000 different vehicles available for rent (or available under rent-to-purchase agreements) and the list does include several cars that could be considered “luxury” models (BMW 3 series, Audi A4s and Land Rover Discoverys) it is important to point out that these upgrades to more expensive cars require a large upfront payment in addition to the weekly Motability monetary instalments.

The majority of those using the Motability scheme end up with more conventional cars such as a Toyota Yaris or Citroen Berlingos.

It is also important to note that disabled individual receive funds as part of a “higher mobility allowance” which they can choose to inject into the Motability scheme or spend elsewhere. So whilst the tax payer does arguably foot the bill, claims from the Daily Mail that the tax payer is forking out billions so that the less fortunate can cruise about in luxury are absurd.

If I had a disability, I would not like to be limited to the type of car I can own, particularly if I happen to have the necessary funds in my bank account to upgrade!

About the author: The author of this guest post – Kat Twine – has a disabled sister and so has had firsthand experience of the Motability scheme and the joy that mobility cars can bring to those genuinely in need of them.

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