Cheats who abuse the Motability Car Scheme are in for a tougher time.
The warning comes as the disability car charity moves to fully implement changes following a review of the car scheme earlier this year.
During the last financial year, more than 7,000 allegations of fraud or abuse were investigated and action taken in over 2,000 cases. More than 800 customers had their leases terminated and their cars withdrawn.
The charity reached a milestone a couple of months back with the addition of its 3 millionth car, and Motability chairman Lord Sterling took the opportunity to hit back at confusion and criticism surrounding the scheme and its relationship with the government.
Lord Sterling said, “Following a number of recent press articles, I would first like to clarify the relationship between Motability and the Disability Living Allowance . DLA is a government benefit to help with the extra costs arising from disability. The Department for Work and Pensions determine who is eligible for DLA, based on an application completed by a disabled person.
“Motability is an independent charity and is not part of government. It has no role in determining who should receive DLA; that is solely the responsibility of the DWP. Once in receipt of the higher rate mobility component of DLA, the disabled person is able to join the Motability Scheme. When a customer applies to lease a car from the Motability Scheme, we confirm with the DWP that they are in receipt of the allowance for at least 12 months and therefore eligible to join the scheme.
“Motability has close to 600,000 cars on the road today. As the DWP recently stated, Motability plays a key role in ensuring that disabled people who most need help getting around and living a normal life can do so. At present, DWP is reforming DLA to ensure that those disabled people who most need this vital support continue to receive it. As we have done with every government over the last 33 years, we are working closely with the current government to ensure that Motability supports those disabled people with the greatest need.”
Lord Sterling conceded with any organisation with almost 600,000 customers there was always going to be a small minority who would try and abuse the scheme.
And he added, “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 scheme 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.
“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.”