The Motability Scheme

Motability is a national charity set up to help disabled people with their personal mobility.

It has helped over 4 million disabled people get mobile by using their government funded mobility allowance to purchase a car, scooter or powered wheelchair. The scheme offers a wide range of wheelchair accessible vehicles and a number of adaptations free charge for certain qualifying people.

To find out more on the Motability scheme, please read our Motability Factsheet

What is the Motability Scheme?

Motability is a national charity set up in 1977 with support from the government and incorporated by Royal Charter to help disabled people with their personal mobility. It has helped over 4 million disabled people get mobile by using their Government-funded mobility allowance to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair. The scheme offers a wide range of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) and a number of adaptations free of charge.

Motability has 5000 dealers across the UK. The package you receive comprises:-

  • A new car, scooter or powered wheelchair every three years or an extension to the lease for adapted vehicles
  • Insurance from RSA Motability (RSAM)
  • Breakdown assistance
  • Servicing, maintenance and repairs
  • Adaptations, with some at no extra cost.

The scheme does not allow you to lease both a car and a wheelchair – only one or the other.

Motability can only support customers using Motability vehicles – they cannot advise or support you in using your own car.

The Motability service has improved a lot in recent years and provides good customer support services, including extra help with specialised vehicles.

Who can use Motability?

People with mobility issues, Arthritis, Spinal injuries, Heart conditions and Circulation problems, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebal Palsy and Cognitive Impairment can use the Motability scheme.

There is no upper age limit.

The scheme is for Drivers and/or Passengers alike but the car MUST be used for the benefit of the qualifying person only. If you are a non-driver, you can nominate two named drivers.

Can I join the scheme?

If you receive the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) you may be eligible to join the Motability Scheme.

Only the higher or enhanced rate of the mobility allowance is used and you must have at least 12 months’ award length remaining. Attendance Allowance cannot be used to lease a car through Motability.

Use the Motability eligibility checker to see if you qualify.
If your allowance comes to an end for any reason, Motability will reclaim your car within 21 days. The Thalidomide Trust can support and advise you in this situation - just call 01480 474074 or email us.

What happens to my Motability car if I am unsuccessful with PIP?

• Since April 2017, Motability has been offering an enhanced transitional support package for Scheme customers moving from DLA to PIP.

• If you joined the Scheme before 2013 and return the car within eight weeks*, £2,000 will be available. Alternatively, you can choose to keep the vehicle for 26 weeks*, however in this case you will receive a reduced payment of £500.

• If you joined the Scheme during 2013 and return the car within eight weeks* a transitional support payment of £1,000 will be available. Alternatively, you can choose to keep the vehicle for 26 weeks* and receive a reduced payment of £250.

• If you joined the Scheme anytime from 1st January 2014, unfortunately you are not eligible for the Transition Support Payment as more information on PIP was available after this time. A standard £250 Return to Dealer payment will be available if the vehicle is returned within eight weeks*

*All dates relate to the period starting from the day of the last DLA allowance payment.

• More information is available on the Motability website

How does Motability work?

The process from New Customer to having your car is generally 6-9 months. A scooter or powered wheelchair can be quicker.

The process works like this:-

Find out everything you need to know about the Motability scheme

Or, if you prefer, you can call the Thalidomide Trust on 01480 474074 or email us to find out more.

You can lease your car for three years - or longer if you need to (see the section on adaptations below). At the end of the lease period you can hand back your car and get DLA reinstated, lease another vehicle or extend your lease.

Some people buy their car at the end of the lease. If you are interested in this your Motability adviser can provide further information.

What if I need adaptations?

Common adaptations are free of charge if they are fitted at the start of your lease. If you want to transfer an adaptation from your existing car to your Motability car, this may be possible if it is compatible with the new vehicle. Motability will advise you.

If your specifications for your car, or for adaptations, are complex you will need to discuss these in detail with the Motability Customer Service team.

If you need or want a higher specification for your car an advance payment up to or around £2,000 is available, allowing you to purchase a car with some of the solutions you require ready built in.

Motability’s buying power means it can pass on cost savings to its customers. The £2,000 down payment adjusts the cost of the vehicle so you then pay the same weekly rate as everyone else on the scheme.

If the adaptations you need to make to your car are expensive as well as complex one option is to apply for a Motability Vehicle and offer to pay for your own adaptations. These remain your property throughout your lease period and beyond.

Assessments for financial support from Motability

If you need some help with costly adaptations your needs will be assessed by the Motability Grants Team who can arrange to visit you at home, help you with the process and offer you a range of financial solutions – even to the value of foot-steering if you need it.

Their decision is means tested and Motability will consider each case on an individual basis. They carefully consider the impact not having a car will have on your life as part of their decision.

To accommodate the cost of complex adaptations Motability will consider extending your lease to seven years - or longer if necessary.

If you have paid for the adaptations yourself they are your property and you can arrange for them to be transferred if possible. You should be aware, however, that adaptations cannot be transferred on to another Motability car. It is Motability’s policy to start with new adaptations with each new vehicle they supply.

If you decide to transfer adaptations onto a privately owned vehicle, that is your own decision.

What are WAVs?

WAVs are Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles. They start as a standard vehicle which are then significantly altered by specialist company, to allow the wheelchair user to remain in their wheelchair when the vehicle is moving.

Modifications include:
Ramps both manual and automatic
Larger WVAs can be fitted with lifts
Lowered floors to allow enough headroom for the wheelchair users
Altered seating arrangements to allow space for the wheelchair

WAVs tend to cost more than standard cars, however you are able to lease a WAV through the Motability Scheme, the lease payments come directly from your higher rate mobility allowance. You will however need to make an advance payment at the start of your lease to make up the difference between the allowance payments and what the lease costs. If this is a struggle Motability the Charity, may be able to offer you a grant. This however is means-tested and help will only be given towards basic mobility needs.

Motability also provide a nearly new WAV programme which provides an option for a lower advanced payment or a shorter lease.

Included in the scheme for both new and nearly WAVs are:

  • Insurance for two named drivers
  • Servicing and maintenance
  • Breakdown assistance
  • Replacement tyres
  • Window and windscreen repair
  • Annual car tax

Key facts (Motability 2017)

  • WAV customer overall satisfaction maintains its highest ever level – 96%
  • 42% of all WAV applications are financially supported with a grant
  • From April 2017, prices for small and medium WAVs have been reduced by an average of £500
  • Drive-From-Wheelchair (DFW) fleet is nearly 2,200 vehicles and over 90% are funded by Motability grants

For further information please see the Motability Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle details.

What about insurance?

Insurance for your vehicle will come as part of your package. It is provided by Royal Sun Alliance Motability (RSAM). It should be possible for your Personal Assistant (PA) to be covered by the insurance but if they live more than 5 miles away, you will need to discuss this with Motability – who judge each case individually. Your case may well be one that qualifies as an easy exception.

If you decide to buy your vehicle at the end of your lease, RSAM will provide a letter containing details of any claims, your No Claims entitlements and any other appropriate information for you to give your chosen insurer.

Where can I get further information?

For further information on Motability visit the charity’s website

Motability website contact us section gives you full details of where to enquire and answers common questions and concerns.

For further information on Motability and PIP, see our Motability & PIP factsheet.

You can also call Health & Wellbeing team on 01480 474074 or email us for further information.