The Motability Scheme charity has been enabling people throughout the UK to use their qualifying mobility allowance to lease a new car, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle, powered wheelchair or scooter since 1978 – which means it’s celebrating its 45th anniversary.

  • The Motability Scheme is a UK charity enabling people who receive a qualifying disability or illness benefit to pay for a lease vehicle.
  • Founded in 1978, the scheme is celebrating its 45th

The Motability Scheme has been available to people who are in receipt of a qualifying mobility allowance for the last 45 years. Having grown significantly since its early years, the scheme has provided in excess of 5 and a half million vehicles throughout the UK.

When the Mobility Allowance was introduced in 1976, although it was intended to help people with a disability access their own transport, it wasn’t enough to actually buy a car, so the scheme was created to offer people eligible for a mobility allowance (worth £7 in 1978) an affordable transport option by providing lease cars.

Consequently, the Motability Scheme, started by the late Lord Goodman and Lord Sterling, was officially launched, with the delivery of 10, modified new cars at Earl’s Court in 1978, a year after ‘Motability the Charity’ had been created to administer the scheme itself and in the same year that ‘Mobility Operations’ was formed to run it.

Beginning with those 10 customers in 1978, the scheme rapidly expanded over the next 2 decades and by 1998, one million cars had been leased to Motability customers.

Initially, the cars were intended for people in receipt of the mobility allowance who could drive or be driven in a standard car, but over time the options increased to include driving aids and adaptations and specially converted Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs).

WAVs are vehicles that have been specially converted to aid the mobility of a wheelchair user who can travel as a passenger or a driver. Today, over 30,000 people have a WAV on the Mobility Scheme.

Besides cars, by 2010, the Powered Wheelchair and Scooter Scheme had been taken over by Motability Operations, so users of scooters and powered wheelchairs (currently around 20,000 people) had the same access to mobility as vehicle users.

By 2013, as technology advanced, electric cars became available through the Motability Scheme and today there is a wide selection of hybrid and electric vehicles as well as petrol and diesel vehicles available. For people who lease their first electric car on the scheme, they are additionally supported by the fitting of a free standard home charger.

In 2023, there are more than 2,000 cars on the Motability Scheme available from a wide range of manufacturers. WAVs can be converted by specialist Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle providers.