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Motability guide: Affordable travel freedom for you and your family

The Motability Scheme gets people mobile by helping them lease a new car, powered wheelchair or other accessible vehicle.

What is it?

Motability is a government-backed scheme that transforms the lives of disabled people and those around them.

If you struggle to get about because of a disability, the Motability scheme can do more than just help - it can be a lifeline.

The service has assisted more than 35,000 people in Northern Ireland since its inception, and there's a lengthy list of testimonials from people whose lives have been transformed as a result.

The Motability Scheme helps you get mobile by exchanging your higher rate mobility allowance to lease a new affordable car or other accessible means of transport.

It offers all-inclusive leasing with plus handy extras like insurance, servicing, maintenance and breakdown cover.

Tyre and windscreen repair and replacement are also offered. As Motability likes to say: all you do is add fuel and go.

Motability also negotiates with motor manufacturers, so you don't have to negotiate yourself - plus they boast they're always able to offer the best prices possible.

Who can use it?

The Motability Scheme enables anyone in receipt of higher rate mobility allowance (such as enhanced parts of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to use their mobility allowance to lease a car, scooter, powered wheelchair or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle.

It works by letting you exchange all, or part of your mobility allowance to lease the vehicle of your choice. You choose the vehicle you want at a price that works for you, and payments are deducted from your higher rate mobility allowance every four weeks, then paid directly to Motability by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The standard lease is for three years, or five years if you are leasing a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle and we take care of running costs such as insurance for up to three named drivers (this doesn't have to be you), servicing, maintenance, breakdown cover. All you need to do is add fuel and go. Payments are automatically taken from your mobility allowance.

What can it do for me?

Access to a car or any powered vehicle or mini-vehicle has the ability to transform lives of people who have difficulties getting around.

So, Motability can really transform the lives of people with difficulties getting around; those all-important trips to the shops or relatives are made so much easier.

It's not just about letting people with disabilities drive, however.

It also allows those who do not drive to apply for a car as a passenger. They can even nominate two other people as their drivers, which can be a real help for getting to the doctors, chemist or other appointments as well as leisure trips and shopping.

Additionally, what many parents and carers may not know is that Motability also supports those caring for a disabled child aged three or over.

How do I choose a vehicle?

Motability UK is also an expert in helping people get advice on the complicated business of adapting vehicles to the needs of disabled people. Their brilliant database of 400 adaptations is almost bound to have something that could help you. Many popular adaptations come at no extra cost.

Another brilliant Motability device is a simple online car search tool at www.motability.co.uk which is designed to makes it easy to find and create a shortlist of cars.

Cars are supplied through a network of local Motability Dealer Partners and many of the vehicles are available simply by customers transferring their allowance to Motability for the period of the agreement.

The most popular option for Motability customers is the contract hire of a new car, which offers worry-free motoring at affordable prices. Customers can choose a new car from a selection of over 2,000 models, from the major manufacturers.

Is it just for cars?

No. It's not just motor cars that quality for assistance under the scheme - Motability can also finance powered wheelchairs and scooters.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) can also be leased on Motability. These start as standard vehicles, often vans, and are then converted by a specialist engineering company to allow access to, say, a wheelchair user.

There are a number of specialised converters in Northern Ireland who adapt vehicles. They can also adapt cars to make them more disability-friendly, for example by adding a swivel seat or a boot hoist for a scooter.

Where do I go to get a Motability vehicle?

There are many Motability-registered dealers in Northern Ireland, so pop down to your local forecourt and make inquiries to a scheme that will transform your life. But first, check out www.motability.co.uk for the latest advice.

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