"Although it is disappointing that these changes will mean disabled people will have less choice, we know that the longevity of the scheme is the most important thing."
Motability is a registered charity, a scheme open to some recipients of Disability Living Allowance that allows, amongst other things, disabled people to lease cars. Recipients of the Higher Rate Mobility Component of DLA may (usually people given a three-year, or longer, award) spend this money on leasing a car.
People can lease a vehicle by giving up the mobility component of DLA. Sometimes there is a down payment on larger or higher spec cars. The lease tem is three-years, after which you 'swap' the old car for a new one (unless you wish to keep the three-year-old vehicle for a further term, thus dispensing with an up-front payment for a new car).
As a user of Motability, now on my second vehicle, I see a scheme that is working for the end-user, namely disabled people; and yes, its continuance should be a priority.
For quite a while now, the British media, in particular the paper side, has been running a hate campaign against disabled people, more so those of us receiving benefits, often DLA. Sensationalist stories of 'scrounging, lead-swinging unemployed disabled people driving around in brand-new £30,000 cars provided by the state' populate the pages of the scum press. The country's going to the dogs and disabled people are bleeding it dry!
They rarely report that for every 'free car' provided by the state, a disabled person pays £51.40 per week; or, that sometimes we may have to contribute hundreds, or thousands up-front payments in order to get vehicles that suit our impairments. Many disabled people can't simply take the cheapest car on offer; no, they often need extremely complex and complicated adjustments to their vehicles which up the price.
So, the scum press has pushed the government into making the following negative changes to the Motability Scheme:
1. Limiting the range of vehicles available to cars with an Advance Payment of £2,000 or less, approximating to a Recommended Retail Price limit of circa £25,000. The changes to car selection take place immediately, although Motability will honour all existing orders and commitments, changes will be fully implemented in December 2011.
2. Limiting the nominated drivers to those who live within 5 miles of the customer in order to minimise the risk of the car being used other than for the benefit of the disabled person
3. Piloting new vehicle technologies to monitor how cars are used where the greatest risk of abuse is perceived.
4. Requiring a Statement of Responsibilities to be signed at the beginning of each lease by the customer and nominated drivers together with the supplying motor dealer to ensure that the key responsibilities of each party have been communicated and are clearly understood.
5. No longer accepting nominated drivers under the age of 21 on the Scheme from January 2012, unless they reside with the disabled customer.
6. Restricting young drivers under the age of 25 to cars in ABI Insurance Group 16 or lower which also have a power output of 115 BHP or less.
The first change smacks of pure vindictiveness. A means to mollify the rabid readership of the Daily Hate. Some disabled will need vehicles whose spec goes over the £25,000 limit. Indeed, some will be able to afford dearer cars, remember this benefit is non-means tested.
As for the second in the list, the government has cannot have thought this through, unless they really are as nasty as they're beginning to appear. For me the 5-mile rule is not a particular problem; my PAs, who drive me everywhere I go, all live within walking distance of my home. Not so for people living outside big cities. Why, for cities such as Sheffield a 5-mile+ journey are not out of the ordinary. If you happened to live in the Yorkshire Dales, or pretty much any rural part of the UK, 5-miles is not considered a great distance.
With youth unemployment a national disgrace, and with no sign of improvement, PA and care work is one area that would attract this age demographic. Young disabled people don't want middle-age PAs and carers, especially when out and about, going out at night, that kind of thing.
What about children who look after disabled parents or siblings? They often surrender their childhood to care for disabled family members. Many undergo great hardship balancing school and caring duties, sadly with little or no help from the state.
Well, this government is now going to disallow people under 21 from becoming a nominated driver on the Scheme. So, an 18-year-old disabled recipient of DPs and ILF cannot employ a PA of her own age to drive her to and from university, go shopping with, or take her to a club or pub.
Similarly, a young man who has cared for a disabled mother since he was 10; fetching, carrying, cooking, etc, etc cannot, though he has passed a driving test and has a full driving licence, be nominated as his mother's driver on the Scheme because he is only 18 and has moved away from home.
Motability, why didn't you get off your knees? Why didn't you approach your clientele, us the disabled people and ask for our advice. We would have backed you against a vicious bunch of thugs that masquerades as a government. Are you so gutless that you allow the best interests of your customers, us disabled people, to be overridden by the baying of a few scummy media hounds.
Motability needs disabled people. We also need the service you provide. This government has stared you straight in the eyes; and, you blinked! When they introduce PIP within the next couple of years, prepare for a massive drop in your customer-base. As has been shown with ESA where they were hoping to see a third on ESA, a third on ESA WRAG and a further third going over to JSA; this hasn't happened.
No, thanks to their tame poodles, ATOS, they're pushing far greater numbers of disabled claimants onto JSA, thus making massive savings. ATOS will also carry out the reviews from DLA to PIP. So Motability, it won't be the 20% figure the government touted when it announced the introduction of PIP; no, it could be 30, 40, or 50%, maybe even more.
Could Motability survive a halving of its business? We'd be looking at thousands of job losses across the Scheme itself, the dealerships, carmakers, insurance providers, etc. Not to forget those hundreds of thousands of disabled people who will be left abandoned; many will be resigned to a prison-like existence locked away by distance from family friends and loved ones.
Finally, if you, Motability, believe that by meekly accepting the government's changes to the Motability Scheme you'll somehow draw away the scum media's attention from 'free cars to disabled people', then you're woefully mistaken; and, I'd say don't understand the motives of either the gutter press or this government.