Motability, the scheme which enables disabled people, their families and their carers to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair by using their government-funded mobility allowance, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
Patronised by HRH Queen Elizabeth, Motability has revolutionised the way disabled people get about and there are currently more than 650,000 customers benefiting from the scheme in the UK.
When the idea was conceived in the mid 1970s in excess of 40 per cent of households in Britain owned a car but disabled people were missing out.
Only those who could drive themselves received any government help with transport, usually in the form of a blue trike which didn’t take passengers.
Mobility Allowance made Motability feasible for the first time
The Mobility Allowance – now called the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance – introduced by the Government in 1976 broke the mould in giving help regardless of ability to drive.
It also signalled the Government’s commitment to giving disabled people choice in the form of a cash allowance, rather than imposing certain types of vehicle on them.
The Mobility Allowance was a positive advance but it was not enough to buy and run even the smallest car.
The then Secretary of State for Health and Social Services invited Lord Goodman and Lord Sterling to consider how disabled people could use this allowance to affordably obtain a vehicle.
More than three million vehicles supplied by Motability
Their answer to the problem was Motability and, often for the first time, disabled people could afford a good quality car from any participating manufacturer, fully insured, serviced, and with breakdown assistance.
Founded in 1977, the Motability targeted motorists aged 16 to 19, and just 220 applications were processed during the scheme’s infancy.
Motability was set up as a partnership between the charitable sector, government, leading banks, and the motor and insurance industries.
Since its formal launch in July 1978 more than three million cars, scooters and powered wheelchairs have been provided.
Premium manufacturers such as Mercedes now support Motability
Customers choose a new car every three years or a wheelchair accessible vehicle every five years.
More than 30 manufacturers currently offer cars through the scheme with premium manufacturers such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes becoming popular alternatives to more mainstream suppliers such as Ford and Vauxhall. It is easy to find out if you are eligible for Motability.
- Disabled drivers often find themselves struggling to find car insurance at an affordable rate. Chartwell Insurance provides high quality car insurance specific to disabled drivers, including benefits that would be excluded on standard policies.