Motability scheme 'being abused'
Flash cars leased to disabled people under a £1.4 billion benefits scheme are being driven by their family and friends in an abuse of the system, it has been claimed.
Those who qualify for help from the Government with getting around can receive a benefit of £51.40 a week, which many use to lease vehicles from a not-for-profit company.
The firm, Motability Operations, provides them with a new car every three years, exempt from road tax and VAT - with BMWs and Mercedes among those leased out.
But friends and relatives of the disabled people for whom the vehicles are intended are known to take advantage of them, driving them themselves for their own purposes, a Whitehall source said.
"A lot of people are saying 'my neighbours have got this car and it's for their granny, but they ride in it," the source said.
"The issue this raises is 'is Motability being abused?' And the answer is absolutely, in some cases it is."
It is thought that almost 200,000 of the cars are being used by friends and relatives of the disabled people.
But it is not clear how many of these are driving them for legitimate purposes such as chauffeuring the disabled person or helping them with their shopping.
"Sometimes it's for the right thing and sometimes it's for the wrong thing," the source said.
The Government hopes that its planned reform of the disability living allowance (DLA) will help stamp out such abuses by introducing closer scrutiny of the system and considering whether Motability is the best option for everyone.