Motability under spotlight over cuts to grants… despite £190 million reserves
Summary: The Motability car scheme has been asked to justify tough new rules that restrict grants made to disabled drivers with high support needs, at the same time that its charitable trust has reserves of nearly £200 million.
Last June, the charity secretly introduced new rules for its Specialised Vehicles Fund (SVF), which meant that only disabled people who spend more than 12 hours-a-week in education, work, volunteering or caring would qualify for grants enabling them to lease a drive-from-wheelchair (DFW) vehicle.
The new rules were introduced at a time when the financial assets of the Motability Tenth Anniversary Trust (MTAT) – a charity set up by Motability in 1989 – had risen to £186 million, an increase of £150 million since 1995.
MTAT’s income in 2013-14 was £54.4 million – including a donation of £50 million from Motability Operations, which manages the car scheme – but it only spent £5.5 million of that on grants.
The concerns have been raised by the grassroots, user-led, campaigning network Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).
Motability has defended the SVF rule changes, arguing that it has a “finite amount of money”, that the new criteria “allow us to approach applications in a consistent manner”, and that “the complexity and cost of the DFW vehicles makes it inevitable that some criteria will be applied to prioritise applications for support”.
Motability expected to make about 300 SVF grants in 2014-15 for drive-from-wheelchair vehicles (a fall of around 50 on the previous year), while the number of grants for less expensive wheelchair-accessible vehicles was expected to rise by around 500 to about 3,500.
Motability argues that the fall in DFW grants was partly because the annual payment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) into the fund – which is administered by Motability on behalf of the government – has been frozen at £17 million per year since 2012-13, in effect a real-terms cut.
This week, Motability disputed that its new rules were “strict”, but confirmed that MTAT has assets of “circa £180 million”, and was set up to “support the charitable objectives of Motability”.
A Motability spokeswoman said MTAT was “committed to ensuring that, as far as possible, Motability customers can be kept on the road even when periods of high inflation, such as the early 1980s, or economic shocks, such as 2008, put pressure on the affordability of the scheme”.
She said the trust had, in the past, provided some “top-up” funding to the SVF – of about £5 million – in the late 1990s and early 2000s “when government funding was exceptionally constrained”.
She said: “It is vitally important to Motability that we maintain this financial flexibility to see us through both good and bad times in this way.
“[MTAT] maintains reserves for this purpose, as well as providing support for the charitable grants made by Motability each year.”
She said that MTAT had now also agreed to provide financial assistance to former Motability customers when they needed help with “the cost of adaptations, specialised vehicles or otherwise find themselves in exceptional hardship”.
This agreement was drawn up as part of the package of transitional support Motability promised to customers leaving the scheme as a result of being reassessed for the new personal independence payment (PIP), which has been gradually replacing working-age disability living allowance (DLA) since 2013.
The donation of £50 million to MTAT from Motability Operations in 2013-14 was intended to support these measures.
Motability won praise in October 2013 after it announced – as part of this package of measures – that it would hand £2,000 to every disabled person who had their vehicle taken away after being reassessed for PIP and had joined the scheme before January 2013.
A Motability spokeswoman said: “The spending of £5.4 million reported [by MTAT]in 2013-14 includes support both for charitable grants and for customers affected by PIP reassessments.
“Crucially, though, given the pace of PIP reassessments is accelerating, [MTAT] spending will increase considerably over the coming years.”
By 2018, DWP is expected to have reassessed about two million working-age DLA claimants for PIP, which will include about 360,000 of the 630,000 disabled people who lease a vehicle through Motability.
The Motability spokeswoman said: “The £50 million donation received in 2013 will be used throughout the reassessment period to support mobility needs arising from the introduction of the government’s PIP.
“At this time, it is hard to accurately predict how many departing customers will need help with specialised vehicles or find themselves in exceptional hardship throughout the reassessment period for PIP; therefore we must be prudent to ensure there is sufficient funding to support departing customers.”
Motability has previously admitted that it carried out no public consultation on the new SVF rules, and conducted no formal equality impact assessment of the changes.
Campaigners believe these failures could mean a breach of its Equality Act duties, as it runs the SVF on behalf of the government.
Now DPAC is hoping to support a legal case for discrimination against Motability over the changes to the SVF.
DPAC wants to hear from anyone affected by the changes who would qualify for legal aid.
It is particularly keen to hear from anyone who does not have a Motability vehicle and has been refused the right to apply for grant funding.
Source Disability News Service
Other recent news items:
- Doctors’ union finally agrees to spread the word
- Disability Politics UK: call to prioritise step free access
- Children with disabilities: targeted violence and hostility
- Dementia care: how social enterprises are developing products and services
- Adass spring seminar: four things you need to know
- The Disability Audit: the eight coalition policies that have hit disabled people
- DWP told to publish ESA deaths report, after two-year delay
- The struggle to find work when you have Down's syndrome
- PIP Delay Crisis Over, Claims DWP
- Meet Justin Tomlinson MP- New Minister For Disabled People
- A quick guide to new care minister Alistair Burt
- How to use your disability as a strength when applying for jobs
- Devastating impact of cuts on disabled people
- NHS ‘has wasted more than a year’ on latest bid to improve wheelchair services
- Five Thousand Disabled Adults Sexually Abused In Last 2 Years Says NSPCC
- ESA Claimant Takes On Maximus And Wins
- One in five benefit-related deaths involved sanctions, admits DWP
- Manchester United tell family with disabled son to watch Stockport instead
- Joint mental health commissioning strategy
- New parliament sees number of disabled MPs plunge
- Motability under spotlight over cuts to grants… despite £190 million reserves
- Disabled people ‘should come together in new national body’
- 'It's a great honour': Selby appoints UK's first mayor with learning disabilities
- Voluntary Community Social Enterprise Review website
- Cameron downgrades minister for disabled people
- Poor UK cancer survival rates linked to lack of GP direct access to scans
- Charity highlights role of siblings in supporting adults with a disability
- Queen’s Speech fails to mention social care funding
- Queen’s speech ‘suggests the worst is yet to come'
- TV industry must improve representation of disabled people
- The bionic suit helping wheelchair users get back on their feet
- New project to tackle mental health issues
- Equality watchdog contradicts football’s Premier League over access
- Schools 'must improve support for diabetic children'
- National Theatre plans shows on issue of disability
- Rise in mental health bed occupancy
- Watchdog writes to Man Utd after stewards confiscate walking aids from fans
- Government cuts ‘could see disabled people slide back to the bad old days’
- Disabled payment delay unlawful, judge rules
- The 'dragons' who want to help disabled people start their own business
- Boy, 12, wins £120,000 in damages after swine-flu jab left him 'severely disabled' by narcolepsy
- DWP ignores watchdog’s deadline over benefit-related deaths
- Man who cannot walk or talk called for jobcentre 'back to work' interview
- UK woman can ride bike for first time with 'world's most lifelike bionic hand'
- GPs to refer more patients with low-risk cancer symptoms under new NICE guidance
- Disability campaigners clash with police inside parliament over benefit cuts
- Indefinite Award DLA Transfer To PIP Will Start From July In Certain Postcodes
- Disabled children less happy with hospital care than peers
- ILF closure: Process has caused ‘fear, stress and anxiety’, say researchers
- Disability poverty rose sharply in fourth year of coalition
- UK services failing patients with dementia
- Shadow disability minister admits backing assisted suicide bill
- Disabled people's rights threatened by government cuts, campaigners warn
- BBC Three’s ‘Defying The Label’ Season
- From 'bloodied knees' to the House of Commons as a disabled MP
- Mental health patients sent hundreds of miles for beds as out of area placements rise 23 per cent
- Systematic over-medication blights learning disability care
- The Superhumans return to Channel 4
- Accessible Information Standard Approved
- Doctors demand return of lung cancer awareness campaign
- David O’Mar, 58, Found Fit For Work Two Weeks Before His Death
- World First Bionic Eye Gives Hope To Millions
- Seven-day NHS to include child mental health services, minister confirms
- Court hears appeal on ‘unfair’ PIP 20 metre rule consultation
- New report by Business Disability Forum cites lack of skills in line managers as major barrier to retention of disabled employees
- Tanni says 10,000 signatures could finally transform wheelchair services
- BBC3 presenter and journalist crowdfunding to transform the lives of people with disabilities in Ghana
- Disabled voters take pioneering legal action over election access
- Has disability sport lost its London 2012 Paralympics momentum?
- NHS Announce New Care Guidelines For Learning Disabilities
- Fresh evidence that ‘benefit scrounger rhetoric’ is causing hate crime
- Sanctioned Jobseekers With Mental Health Problems Are Not ‘Vulnerable’ Says DWP
- Clubs “Neglecting Responsibility” To Disabled Fans
- Latest Figures Show Massive Rise In ESA Sanctions
- ‘Bizarre’ figures raise fears over ministers’ plans for ESA
- School nurses ‘need better mental health training’
- Number of people developing dementia 'stabilising'
- Boy, nine, fitted with first prosthetic hand that can change grip with gestures
- Iain Duncan Smith criticises employers over disability employment gap
- Disability benefit sanctions soar by 30% in a year
- Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show
- Goths at risk of depression or self-harming, research says
- Elderly 'ripped off' in mobility scooter market
- GPs are missing cancer in children - because they 'don't have enough training'
- IDS announces 'fitness for work' U-turn that was five years in the making
- People with autism and learning disabilities excel in creative thinking, study shows
- Starbucks apologises for telling woman she was not 'disabled enough' to use the toilet
- DLA Lifetime Award PIP Transition Started from 1 September in 29 New Areas
- Successful 'Fit for Work' Appeals at Highest Ever Level, Show DWP Stats
- Why is our justice system failing vulnerable people?
- UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
- Coroners 'ground breaking' verdict: Suicide was 'triggered' by 'fit for work' test
- Schoolboy calls for more disabled characters in children's books
- The quadruple amputee who needs the correct prosthetic
- Welfare to work programme failing disabled and ill jobseekers, say charities
- Disabled fans 'delighted' as Premier League finally acts on access
- Two-thirds of adult social care requests rejected by local councils
- Independent Living Fund: Government silence 'suggests something to hide'
- UK employers report rise in mental health problems: CIPD study
- UN inquiry considers alleged UK disability rights violations
- Parliament's own disability group picks first non-disabled chair in nearly 50 years
- Dementia drug 'keeps patients out of nursing homes'
- Disability benefit cuts will actually make it harder for disabled people to find work,coalition of 60 charities warns
- Problems with the care and treatment provided by the NHS and/or difficulties in accessing health services?
- Consultation on the proposed new adult social care strategy
- The Leicestershire Advice Service for Social Care is here to guide you
- Minister: MPs must help 'open doors' for disabled jobseekers
- 'Homes not hospitals': learning disability care to move to community
- Equality Act 'simply isn't strong enough' for BSL-users, peers are told
- Disability Hate Crimes Rise 41% In A Year
- Companies fear employing people with learning disabilities, survey reveals
- DWP cuts specialist disability employment advisors in jobcentres by over 60 per cent
- Watchdog 'must do more to support disabled people to fight discrimination'
- ‘We must keep banging the drum,’ says bus campaigner after five-year fight for justice
- 2,000 disabled people wrongly declared ‘fit to work’ by DWP in just three months
- Local authorities 'spend close to nothing on mental health'
- Rock band with learning disabilities release first single
- NICE seeks to improve diagnosis and treatment of cerebral palsy
- Premier League clubs face legal threat unless disabled access is improved
- UK’s progress on disability rights ‘patchy and tortuous’, UN told
- Peer pressure sees minister finally announce date for taxi access laws
- Stop the NHS slashing vulnerable people’s care packages in and around Leicestershire
- Minister tells industries to increase representation of disabled people
- Disabled children in England 'finding it increasingly hard to access council care'
- Wheelchair Rugby Loses Funding Appeal
- Plans that could force people into institutions could be ‘front line’ of national problem
- Young people 'fear stigma' if they ask for mental-health help
- Disability benefits process is 'inherently flawed', MPs told
- Businesses woefully ill-equipped to deal with Britain's rapidly growing mental health crisis
- Cash boost for pupils with special needs and disability
- PIP investigation: ‘Horrific’ suicide question sparks fresh assessment inquiry calls
- Disability report: Being disabled in Britain
- Stop PIP reassessments for patients with progressive diseases, campaigners say
- Patients with learning disabilities missing out on health checks
- Thousands have disability vehicles taken away
- Aspire announces GLL and LCiL as first partners to lead InstructAbility
- Easy read guide to voting by post
- Online campaign ‘could enable disabled people to affect election outcome’
- Health Committee inquiry and report: Brexit and Health and Social Care – People and Process
- Women’s Resource Centre report: the Impact of Austerity Measures on Women’s Voluntary and Community Organisations
- Disabled people ‘forced into dangerous workfare that breaches health and safety laws’
- Mental Health Foundation report: Surviving or Thriving? The State of the UK’s Mental Health
- Stirling University to launch home dementia app
- General Election 2017: What are the parties promising disabled people?
- Anger, resignation… and optimism in wake of general election result
- New disabled MPs pledge to fight for rights in parliament