Using Your Mobility Allowance

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

For anyone who suffers from a long-term illness or disability, it can be challenging to remain mobile and independent. With public transport alternatives not always located feasibly nearby, maintaining one’s mobility can impact all areas of life so it’s important to know what options and aid are available.

The primary way for an eligible person to obtain financial assistance to help them stay independent and mobile has typically been via the government’s Disability Living Allowance (DLA). However the ending of this scheme began in early 2013 for claimants aged 16 or older and born after the 8th of April 19481, with DLA due to be phased out completely during 2018.

DLA transitioning to PIP

DLA is gradually being replaced by a new scheme called the Personal Independence Payment2 (PIP), which is open to eligible men and women aged between 16 and 64. It provides from £21.80 to £139.75 each week depending on how much the person’s condition affects them, which is determined by an assessment. People who are told that they will be moved from DLA to PIP will have their situations reassessed.

If the assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) identifies that Using Your Mobility Allowancesomeone’s health condition(s) affect them enough to significantly limit their independent mobility, they may be eligible to receive the ‘mobility’ component of PIP in addition to the Standard or Enhanced ‘daily living’ component. The mobility component either provides £21.80 per week as Standard or £57.45 under the Enhanced Rate, and both amounts provide people with financial assistance to help them get around.

Motability

The most common way for people suffering with long-standing illnesses or disabilities to receive a car is through Motability4, which is something advertised in many dealerships’ showrooms, on the internet and in newspapers and magazines. Motability is actually a charity and basically receives a person’s Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (ERMC PIP) allowance directly and provides them with a leased vehicle for upto three years at a maximum of 20,000 miles per annum.

A one-off lump sum advance payment is typically required for larger or more expensive vehicles. Motability provides an eligibility checker on its website and isn’t available to those in receipt of the Standard Rate of the Mobility Component of PIP. Over-65s who have a minimum of twelve months remaining on their allowance are still able to join the Motability scheme4.

What’s included?

Motability provides access to more than 2,000 different models from the majority of manufacturers from Ford through to Range Rover. This includes wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAV) that are often leased for five years, and can usually arrange for vehicles to be fitted with hand controls and other adaptations free of charge if required. Insurance, servicing, maintenance, a manufacturer’s warranty, breakdown cover and vehicle excise duty (VED) or ‘road tax’ are all usually included by Motability5 along with windscreen repair or replacement and even tyres in the event of a puncture or damage being sustained.

Many car dealers across the UK will have an appointed Motability specialist on their team, ready to advise eligible drivers6. Aside from transport solutions such as ride-sharing, Motability alternatives are few with some private leasing companies offering discounted rates to the disabled and long-term sick.

Using the mobility allowance to the full

To get the most out of their mobility allowance, a person needs to consider what kind of vehicle they really need, weighing up if factors like the following are realistically important or not. These factors can all affect the price of the car and whether it will be covered by the applicable rate of payment:

  • Would a manual or automatic gearbox be more suitable, such as for people with restricted leg movement or who suffer anxiety?

  • Does parking in potentially tight spaces pose a problem, in which case a smaller car or one with front and rear parking sensors would therefore be more appropriate?

  • Will the car be used for carrying pets more often than simply to visit the vet for annual check-ups and the like, making an estate, MPV or SUV the vehicle type to focus on?

  • Does the car need to have a large enough boot and suitable access for transporting a wheelchair, and will a ramp adaptation be required?

  • Will journeys of around 45 minutes or longer feature on a regular basis or will the vehicle mainly be used for more frequent but shorter trips in a limited local area? Petrol or hybrid engines are much more environmentally-friendly unless longer journeys will be a regular occurrence.

  • Would a car with a raised seating position be more appropriate than a car with seats positioned closer to the ground, which could restrict access and comfort for someone with relevant disabilities or health issues such as a bad back?

In order to be provided with a vehicle that meets a person’s minimum requirements and standards when it comes to comfort, access, manoeuvrability, running costs and other more important factors, it may be necessary for them to sacrifice luxuries. These might include leather seats, upgraded sound systems or sat navs, which could tip particular vehicles over his or her mobility allowance.

Driving style

Using the mobility allowance to its full potential also involves a person’s wider driving habits. Small things such as ensuring that the vehicle’s tyres are suitably inflated, adopting a smooth and hence more fuel-efficient driving style, and making sure the car isn’t unnecessarily weighed down by items stored in the boot all help someone in receipt of PIP to conserve valuable funds7.

By engaging in conversations with the relevant government organisations as early on as possible, contacting Motability for advice on their scheme, weighing up their mobility requirements in a frank manner, reading car reviews on the internet to identify the most suitable vehicle and then driving it economically, eligible people in receipt of the ERMC PIP can make the most of their finances whilst maintaining their independence.

Sources:

1. https://www.gov.uk/pip/overview

2. https://www.gov.uk/pip/what-youll-get

3. http://www.motability.co.uk/about-the-scheme/allowances/

4. http://www.motability.co.uk/contact-and-support/faqs/if-im-over-65-can-i-still-join-the-motability-scheme

5. http://www.whatcar.com/advice/buying/what-is-motability/

6. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/parking-driving-transport/parking-driving-transport/help-for-disabled-travellers/getting-a-motability-car/

7. http://www.motability.co.uk/whats-on/news-updates/quick-hints-for-making-the-most-of-your-car-on-a-budget

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