Buying A Car - Motability scheme explained

13 August 2012
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The Motability scheme was launched in 1977; originally targeting motorists aged 16-19. Today it covers anyone over the age of three, and provides cars, scooters and powered wheelchairs to disabled people who need a solution to mobility problems. Currently, there are around 580,000 people using the scheme in the UK.

The scheme is funded and overseen by a partnership consisting of charities, banks, motor insurance firms and the Government. Motability cars can be adapted to suit the needs of a range of disabilities; many of these modifications are then removed at the end of the car's Motability life, allowing them to be sold on the general market. Around 130,000 ex-Motability cars are sold every year.

Who is eligible?
There is no upper age limit for claiming Motability, but you need to be receiving one of two benefits – either the Higher Rate Mobility Component (HRMC) of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), which currently stands at £54.05 a week, or the War Pensioners' Mobility Supplement (WPMS), which is £60.40 per week. Depending on the type of vehicle provided, an amount will be deducted from these benefits to pay for your Motability car.

To lease a car through Motability, you must have at least a year's benefits remaining. Only the Higher Rate Mobility Component is used. Other parts of the DLA are not eligible.

If you receive the allowance, but can't drive, it's possible to nominate up to two drivers, along with a third driver at an additional cost. Nominated drivers need to live within five miles of your address. All proposed drivers must agree to the terms and conditions for using a Motability car.

There are some restrictions as to who can drive the car. Only one nominated driver can be under 21. This can be you or another driver who lives at your address. Drivers under the age of 25 can only drive cars in insurance groups one to 16, and with 115bhp or less. Those with prior convictions or disqualifications might not be eligible.

How does it work?
If you are eligible to lease a car under the Motability scheme, there are a few steps to consider

Firstly, you need to choose a car. Remember that while many expenses are covered by the scheme, some running costs aren't, so it's a good idea to research fuel consumption thoroughly. Use to compare cars and consider how practical and spacious each is, too. The car has to fit your needs for the next three years, so it's important you get it right.

Once you've decided on a car, the second step is visiting an accredited Motability dealer. There are around 5000 across the country, so finding one near you shouldn't be difficult. Trained sales people will be able to take you on a test drive, and should you require any adaptation, they'll be able to advise on these, too.

Once you're ready to sign up, you'll need to complete an online order form. After this is complete, you'll be sent a letter with a Personal Identification Number that you'll need when you collect your vehicle.

What else do you get as part of the scheme?
The Motability scheme will provide you with a vehicle and all the support you need. The vehicle is changed every three years, insurance is included, as well as breakdown recovery, servicing, maintenance and repairs. Any adaptations the car might need to suit your disability are also included, usually at no extra charge.

Road tax is included as well, and is sent to you automatically each year. Any tyres that need changing are covered by the scheme, and as long as you use Kwik Fit for the work, you can even have the tyres fitted at home for no extra charge. It's a similar story with windscreens, which are repaired or replaced for free.

Your Motability car can cover up to 60,000 miles while in your possession – additional miles will be charged at 5p.

While a lot of costs are covered by the scheme, it's equally important you understand what isn't. Fuel and consumables such as screen wash aren't part of the deal for example, and any optional extras fitted to cars, such as leather seats, will be billed to you.

Excess payments of insurance claims come with a minimum £75 charge, and the total charge will be worked out based on age and experience. Speed and parking tickets are all your responsibility, as is the theft or damage of personal belongings.

What manufacturers/cars are in the scheme?
There are a huge number of cars available through the scheme, from all major manufacturers, suiting a range of needs and budgets. There are currently around 450 cars that cost no more than the weekly allowance and over 200 that cost less. By topping up your allowance with an upfront payment, or what is called an ‘Advance Payment', the choice of cars becomes even wider.

Most Advance Payments work out at less than £2000, depending on what you choose. However, variations such as automatics, diesels and estates could have an Advance Payment of slightly more than £2000. You can also lease large vehicles with eight or nine seats.

The Advance Payment is payable in one lump sum to your Motability dealer, either before or on the day you collect your new car. Some dealers do ask for a holding deposit when you place your order, but any deposit paid will be deducted from the Advance Payment you pay when collecting your car.

If you are new to Motability, you can trade-in your privately owned car to help finance the Advance Payment of your new car. Around a quarter of Motability dealers offer this and the dealer will arrange the trade-in with you directly.

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By Rory White

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