The Motability Scheme for mobility scooters has never seemed to offer quite the value for money that contract hire car scheme has. When comparing the contract hire offerings for scooters and cars a there is one glaring difference. First of all the prices for the cars is competitive, as it should be with Motability having negotiated VAT exemption for its fleet. The prices for scooters are less so, and this is not just down to the fact that most mobility scooter consumers are exempt from Value Added tax anyway. For some reason the prices on the Motability scooter scheme seem to be tied to the recommended retail price of the scooters, I believe it is the manufacturer retail price less ten percent. This is sheer madness as anyone who has spent more than ten minutes browsing the net for scooters will tell you. Manufacturer recommended prices in the world of mobility scooters has NO bearing on actual retail prices. Even when manufacturers sell the scooters through their own channels they tend to discount RRP by around thirty percent, independent retails can discount by as much as seventy five percent on some models.
The extortionate prices have meant that the only people who will use the scheme are those who are so badly off that they can’t arrange credit themselves for a mobility scooter.
Hopefully though this is about to change. From June next year Motability Operations, the not for profit organisation that runs the car scheme will be taking over the scooter scheme from Route2Mobility who have had the contract for the past five years or so. While there are some fears that scooter scheme customers will get lost amongst the three hundred thousand plus car scheme customers, the likelyhood is that Motability Operations will be able to offer a better product to recipients of the Higher Rate Component of the Disablility Living Allowance. While they are keeping their plans close to their chests there are of whispers about a couple of changes that could be introduced.
- Using scheme buying power to reduce unit costs
One thing Motability Operations have shown in the last six or seven years is that they know how to squeeze suppliers. It is anticipated that Motability Operation will negotiate with manufacturers directly to set fixed prices on the scooters available on the scheme. Initially the knock on effect of this may be reduced choice but it should ensure that prices are at the very least on par with average retail prices.
- Bundling scooters and cars
For many people choosing between a car and a mobility aid is no choice at all, especially if you live in a rural area. Your are choosing between being able to get to where you want to go, but not being able to get around when you get their, or being mobile but only within a very small radius of your home. Offering the cheaper cars with a boot scooter or cheap power chair could give real freedom to so many more people (isn’t that what the scheme is for in the first place?)
While I am not expecting Motability Operations to turn the motability scooter scheme into the answer to everyones prayers, there are reasons for optimisim, and I for one will be watching with a great deal of interest. Who knows, maybe next year we will see something like this for scooters!