Host: Edward, thank you very much for joining us back in the studio. We’ve had a few recordings out with you actually at Cornwall Mobility, so thank you so much for having us there and letting us snoop around, really.
Edward: That’s fine. It was a lot of fun actually, having your colleague try out various bits of kit. It was good. I’ve listened to the show and I thought actually it came across quite well, although it would be nice to hear from some listeners. But I think it came across quite well - the power of radio!
Host: Absolutely. Well, this week we’re talking about the Motability Scheme. Can you just explain for anybody who doesn’t know what is motability first of all?
Edward: OK, motability - people probably have seen references to motability most often on garage forecourts where most sellers of cars offer the Motability Scheme. Motability itself is a charity set up by the government, and it’s there in order to enable people with a disability to continue to be mobile, and most of what they do - and we’ve talked on this program before about it - relates to the provision of vehicles like cars to individuals with a disability, and sometimes adaptations related to those cars to enable people to get back on the road if they have had a serious accident, an amputation, if they’re suffering from congenital conditions of some sort, or deteriorating disease, you know, motoneuron disease. Those sorts of things. They can go to Motability and say, “I need some help because I’m going to need an automatic car,” for example. That’s the most common thing, or “I’m going to need some adaptations to my car.” And they often get referred to us at Cornwall Mobility, and we’ll do an assessment to see what they need, and away they go. And the charity, which is largely government-funded, but it is organizationally a charity, will assist them with that. What I really want to talk about tonight, following on from Professor Colin Roberts talking a couple of weeks ago about the issues relating to mobility scooters. I want to go right back to basics and talk about how the Motability Scheme can actually assist people with a disability in Cornwall to affordably get hold of some of this kit.
Host: So how does the scheme actually work then?
Edward: Well, Motability - this is a relatively recent scheme for motability, but the idea is that people with a disability are able to lease a mobility scooter or an electric wheelchair - what we call a powerchair - over a three-year period on a weekly basis for which they would surrender to Motability a part of their disabled living allowance or other disability allowance they might have. So the way the scheme works is that you go along to Motability through the internet, usually, or a phone call. They will decide whether you are eligible and they will refer you to a local agent - and we are one of them. There are lots in Cornwall. They will refer you to a local agent who will then fit you up and decide what you need, do an assessment, tell you what the costs are and then you make a choice. And there is a big variety of what you can have depending on how much you are prepared to pay per week. So the scheme works on a lease basis. You get your mobility scooter or electric wheelchair. You have it for three years and you trade it in and get another one if you continue to be eligible, and for that you pay a relatively small amount of money a week, normally out of one’s disability allowance. The sorts of things you can have really vary. In front of me, I’ve got a brochure for Motability which one can send off for. I’ll give the details at the end of this interview, but there are hundreds of different types you can have. But just putting it in a nutshell, everybody has seen those mobility scooters zooming around supermarkets - the little ones - they are called boot scooters. The idea being that they fall into three bits and you can pop them in the boot of your car. They go four miles an hour. They are allowed on the pavement, they’re not allowed on the road. They are allowed indoors if you like, in shopping malls and the like. And just to give you an idea, one of those would cost you 11 pounds a week to get through the Motability Scheme. For the big guys, which go eight miles per hour - which doesn’t sound very much - but actually as your colleague found when he came to our place, eight miles an hour is quite something. These are the big ones you see on the road, they have a horn, they have headlights, indicators, rear view mirrors. They are quite considerable machines. Again, to give you an idea, to have one of those would cost 27 pounds a week through this scheme. On the wheelchair side of things, a small indoor wheelchair would be around 20 pounds a week and again, a heavy duty outdoor wheelchair which can go on the road and it also has little headlights and indicators and equipment to allow it to go on the road - it also will be able to go 8 miles an hour - and that would set you back 55 pounds a week. So quite a considerable amount more. So the thing is with those, they sound like a lot of money but actually, the point about the Motability Scheme is that they claim it is a worry-free program, and that’s because everything is included. You get insurance, you get breakdown cover, you get puncture repair 24-7, 365 days a year. They’ll come out and fix you up. Servicing is taken care of, new batteries if the batteries wear up, which they sometimes do after a bit. It really is a top class service and we would recommend as an organization - as you know, we’re a charity involved in assisting people with a mobility challenge - so we have no axe to grind here but it is a really good scheme, but clearly it does cost.
Host: Who is eligible for this?
Edward: Well, the eligibility for this is you have to be on the higher rate mobility component for the current disability living allowance. As people with a disability will know that speaking to people with an interest in healthcare and wellbeing, which this show is about, they may not realize this and we have actually talked about it before that people are being migrated from the disability living allowance to a new scheme called the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and that is an ongoing process that is happening. But basically, they both have a higher rate, an enhanced rated, for the mobility component of that payment. The payments, at the moment, at the time of speaking, are £56.75 a week. So going back to what I was saying earlier, it’s certainly a small amount of that that will be taken out for the provision of the Motability Scheme scooter or wheelchair. You still get the rest of it. You don’t lose the whole lot, clearly. There are also eligibility if you are in the War Pensioners Mobility Supplement, which is £63 a week - that’s for people who have been in the army and are older, and also all the Armed Forces Independent Payment (AFIP), which again is £56.75 a week, the same as the disabled rate. So anybody who has those allowances is eligible for this scheme, and they can just sign up to it and do one of these rental lease schemes.
Host: Now you mentioned already that the weekly price that you pay is inclusive of everything, really, but what are some of the benefits of this scheme?
Edward: I think the main benefit for this scheme is that it takes all the worries and concerns out. We heard from Professor Roberts some weeks ago about some of the nasty accidents that have taken place through some things lacking in the system around training, safety, assessing people and breakdown maintenance and repair and those sorts of things. You can go and buy a mobility scooter off the internet for a one-off payment and away you go. The danger with that is that you’re not trained, it’s not serviced and repaired, you don’t have any idea as to its condition. There is a huge market in second-hand ones. So you can get one really cheap, but it has a lot of drawbacks. The motability scheme for somebody who is suffering from a disability is golden because you don’t want to break down if you have a disability, you don’t want to be out in the rain and suddenly the battery fails, or you get a puncture and you have no recourse to anything. It’s really important that the wellbeing of people with a disability is respected by having proper equipment properly designed and properly backed up. The thing about the Motability Scheme is that you get all that backup, but it is more expensive. I should mention for completeness that you have to pay a deposit as well, of £100 pounds, but it is returnable. But you know, £100 is a considerable amount. That is a new, for anyone who is listening and thinks that I’ve got this wrong, it’s from January, from last month. A £100 is the deposit but it is returnable. Previously, there was a £25 deposit but it wasn’t returnable. I’m not quite sure why it was called a deposit, but that’s the way it worked. You do have to find a £100 pounds upfront.
Host: How do people go out accessing the scheme?
Edward: The key way of accessing the Motability Scheme would be to look them up on the internet at www.motability.co.uk or you can call them. It’s a free number. It’s 0800-9533060. That’s 0800-9533060. And that will take you through to Motability, and they will just talk to you, just advise you. They are very helpful. We have actually tried them out to see how good they are, and they will refer you then to a local dealer. So depending upon which part of Cornwall or Devon you’re in listening to this, you would get led to the one that’s closest to you. If you are in mid-Cornwall, you’ll probably get referred to ourselves at Cornwall Mobility. Indeed, if anybody has any questions about this scheme or indeed anything else about disability or mobility concerns, then get in touch with us. We do provide a signposting service. We don’t charge for that. We put people in touch with the right people so if people want to call us, that’s great. We’re in Truro on 0-1872254920 or you can look us up on the internet at cornwallmobility - all joint together - www.cornwallmobility.co.uk
Host: Edward, once again, thank you very much indeed for joining us on the show this week.
Edward: Great, thank you. It was a pleasure.