There is lots of financial help available to make it easier for disabled drivers – and passengers – get around. But the extent of the aid and the type of concessions available vary depending on the level of disability concerned.
Blue Badge rules and road duty
Blue Badges to allow you to park in disabled spaces, for example, are only for people with severe walking difficulties. And while people who receive the higher rate mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), the enhanced rate mobility component of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or the War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement have no vehicle tax to pay, those who receive the PIP standard rate mobility component only get 50% off. Either way, the vehicle in question must be registered in either the disabled person’s name or their nominated driver’s name and must only be used for the disabled person’s personal needs.
Other schemes designed to help disabled drivers include VAT relief on work done to adapt a vehicle such as a car to your needs, as well as dial-a-ride or taxi voucher schemes in some parts of the country. And last but certainly not least, there is the Motability Scheme, which can help you to lease or buy a car, powered wheelchair or scooter.
The Motability Scheme enables disabled people to use their mobility allowance to lease a vehicle, complete with insurance, breakdown assistance, servicing maintenance and repairs (plus some adaptations).
Again, you will have to receive the higher rate mobility component of the DLA, the enhanced rate mobility component of the PIP, the War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement or the Armed Forces Independence Payment to be eligible.
As of April 2013, these are all worth £55.25 a week, apart from the War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement, which pays out £61.75 a week.
But whichever payment you receive, you must be eligible for at least another 12 months to lease a car. There will also be an upfront payment (Advance Payment) to make that represents the difference between the cost of the vehicle you choose over three years and the amount covered by your Government allowance.
On the plus side, there is no upper age limit, and parents or guardians of disabled children can also qualify as long as the child in question is at least three and receives DLA.
Leasing a vehicle through the Motability scheme
Once you know you’re eligible for the Motability Scheme, and have decided that you want a vehicle to help you get around, the first step is to choose the car, scooter or powered wheelchair you want.
Those looking for a car can then visit one of the 5,000 or so dealerships offering Motability across the UK to discuss your needs and any adaptations you may require, and arrange a test drive.
Those in need of a scooter or powered wheelchair can either go to a showroom or arrange for a specially trained dealer to visit with a selection of products for you to try.
All that’s left is to order the vehicle using the online Motability Scheme system and wait to receive the Personal Identification Number you need to collect your vehicle.
Extra financial aid
The Motability Scheme is directed and overseen by the charity Motability, while the financial side is managed by Motability Operations – a not-for-profit organisation owned by Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and RBS/NatWest.
For those leasing a car, the Motability charity may be able to offer extra help so that you can afford a specific car, pay for necessary adaptations such as wheelchair hoists that are not covered by the standard scheme, or even cover the Advance Payment if you cannot.
However, Motability only awards financial help towards the least expensive solution that meets your needs and expects you to contribute as much as you can afford.