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Motability cars and scheme explained

We explain the Motability scheme, including the Motability allowance and how to get Motability cars

Citroen C4 Motability

The Motability Scheme exists to help people with a variety of qualifying disabilities to remain mobile. The Scheme is a charity, and allows eligible people to obtain a vehicle, either for themselves to drive or to be driven in. The Motability Scheme has been recognised under the Royal Charter since 1977, with the Queen having been the chief patron of Motability since then.

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If you qualify for a Motability car, you can arrange for your disability-related benefits to be paid directly to Motability by the Department for Work and Pensions. Motability will then apportion the money as necessary towards the lease, insurance and maintenance of a new car for a three-year term. After this period, the car is usually sold at auction after being returned to Motability, and you repeat the process to obtain a replacement car if required. The replacement can usually be arranged for the same day, reducing the risk of you being left immobile.

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Users have a choice of hundreds of cars, plus scooters and a number of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) through the scheme. WAVs have been specially adapted from normal cars and enable travel in relative comfort and ease for wheelchair users, either as the driver or passenger. WAV leases run over five years.

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Motability is a very popular scheme, with over three million cars sold since it began. With a 94% satisfaction rating, its customers seem to be happy, too. It makes up a very important part of the new-car market in the UK, accounting for around a tenth of all new cars sold here. Also, 70% of Motability cars are bought online.

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Motability is a registered charity that performs organisational duties and decides the factors which determine eligibility. Motability Operations is a separate, commercial entity that oversees the scheme’s actual finances. Any profits made are reinvested into the scheme.

Motability scheme eligibility

To qualify, a Motability scheme customer must be a claimant of one of the following benefits.

  • The War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement (WPMS) 
  • The Mobility Element of the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)
  • The Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (ERMC PIP)
  • The Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (HRMC DLA)

Parents and legal guardians of children over three years of age are eligible for the Motability scheme if their child has entitlement to either:

  • The higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
  • The enhanced mobility component of Personal Independence Payment

Motability cars

You might think that there’d be a limited choice when it comes to the cars you can pick from, but there is actually a wide array of vehicle types available, and if you include all the variants of each model there are roughly 500 to choose from (and, in the past, up to 2,000 different cars have been available). You always shouldn’t struggle to find somewhere to shop around for your Motability vehicle as there are over 5,000 dealers authorised to supply Motability vehicles.

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A few models require only a partial payment from a customer’s mobility benefits, with the rest going to you. Plenty of cars are available for the entirety of your mobility benefits without any upfront payment.

If you’re in the market for a more expensive car, an Advance Payment can be made. This up-front lump sum is a contribution made by the customer towards the cost of the car and must be made as the lease term begins – it can’t be paid off monthly. It’s similar to the deposit on a PCP finance deal or the initial payment on a standard ‘PCH’ lease deal.

A huge number of Motability cars are available with an automatic gearbox, and some require no advance payment. Electric or hybrid cars can also be chosen, with the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, for example, requiring no payment of cash up-front. If you want to go fully electric there is the Fiat 500 or the Hyundai Kona Electric, both of which can be had with a zero advance payment. With electric cars offering very low running costs, these are very cheap options if you have access to charging.

An excellent search function is available on the Motability scheme website. Be sure to check our own reviews for a verdict of any car you find that you like.

Motability: what’s included?

A key aspect of Motability valued by customers is the peace of mind it offers. As well as a new car every three years, insurance, road tax and routine maintenance are all included, as are tyre replacements, all of which are covered by the monthly payment that comes from your disability allowance. Any special adaptations required to enable the car to be used are also included. The only expenditure a Motability car user should expect to incur is for fuel (and tickets for any driving infringements).

Motability conditions

There are a few important points to bear in mind if you qualify for a car under the Motability scheme.

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As well as yourself, you can name up to three additional drivers to help you get around in your Motability vehicle. Two of these drivers can be named before you collect the vehicle. The third can be added once you have received the vehicle. There are some restrictions as to who can drive, with no serious convictions or driving bans permitted, and a limited number of points in the last five years. The nominated driver may also need to be over 25 years old for some vehicles, although you can check which cars qualify before making your decision.

The mileage limit for a Motability car is 20,000 miles a year, with a 5p charge levied on every mile past that limit. This measure intends to maintain the value of the car for when it’s sold on, and part of the success of the scheme stems from ex-Motability cars being such attractive used buys.

Similarly, the car must be in reasonable condition when returned after three years. You’re unlikely to face a penalty for minor scuffs, but much more than that could make you liable for an insurance excess payment.

We have an excellent guide to the best Motability cars on sale today that those who qualify should check out.

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