A number of changes to the Motability scheme have been announced in the wake of growing criticism about how it was being abused.
Changes announced include: a streamlined selection of cars available, up to a maximum advance payment of £2,000 (this limit does not apply to Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles); nominated drivers under 21 will only be permitted where they live with the disabled customer; and all nominated drivers need to live within five miles of the customer’s home.
The changes are designed to ensure that Motability provides clear policies, focused on the needs of the vast majority of customers. They will also help avoid misuse and misrepresentation of the scheme.
The changes to car selection take place immediately, although Motability will honour all existing orders and commitments. Other changes will take effect from January 1, 2012.
There is no change for existing contracts, or nominated drivers named on current insurance certificates, for the remainder of existing leases.
Motability chairman Lord Sterling: “Like any organisation with close to 600,000 customers, there are a small minority of customers who will try to abuse the scheme.
“Motability works with a range of partners, including for example motor dealers, the DVLA and the police, to ensure that effective procedures are in place to protect the scheme and to ensure that we respond effectively to all allegations of misuse.
“During our last financial year, a number of steps were taken to further improve liaison with the police, including a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
“Over this period, we dealt with 7,144 allegations relating to fraud or abuse of the scheme. These included cases of uninsured driving, unauthorised use of scheme cars, drink-driving and even criminal activity, many of which led to prosecution by the police.
“Enforcement action was taken by Motability in 2,139 cases, including 829 customers who had their agreements terminated and their cars withdrawn.
“In addition, 486 applicants were suspended or permanently excluded from the scheme. We will continue to invest in this activity to protect the reputation of the Scheme and of the vast majority of our disabled customers.
“Despite meeting the mobility needs of disabled people for over 33 years, it is very important that we are not complacent.
“We must continuously strive for excellence by examining and refining all aspects of the scheme.”