A little while ago I mentioned my face to face medical review for my Personal Independence Payment and I had convinced myself that my standard rate would be reduced to nothing. I was geared up to go to panel and fight my corner, sitting here awaiting that dreaded brown envelope. When it did flop through the letterbox, I couldn’t even open it, I felt that sick! Duncan did the honours…..and I was stunned and delighted in equal measure to find that I have been awarded the enhanced rate for both mobility and care needs.
Of course I should be on this rate as my health has deteriorated so much in the last couple of years, with Ehlers Danlos zebras galloping at full pelt through my life. But the system is such that the applicant is made to feel they need to prove that they can’t jump through those hoops the DWP want us to. Anyway it has taken a couple of weeks to sink in, and to investigate the benefits to using the Motability Scheme – “The Motability Scheme enables disabled people to get mobile by exchanging their mobility allowance to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair“. Last week Duncan suggested a trip to Peterborough – which initially didn’t thrill me – but it was actually to a Motability show….again probably not my first choice for a day out! But I arranged the impromptu visit to our friends that I wrote about on Monday Magic, and this would mean only driving one way on the day so off we went.
I must explain that Duncan used to work in the motor trade, so our car has always just turned up, sometimes been sold, often changed at a minute’s notice, but I have never really had anything to do with choosing a car. Of course this time our needs are very different and actually it was very helpful having many of the manufacturers who take part in the scheme under one roof. The volunteers for the Motability charity couldn’t have been more helpful and there were plenty of them handing out goody bags full of useful information.
The exhibitors included motor manufacturers, mobility scooters & electric wheelchairs, and companies who adapt the vehicles to your needs. We were able to book a test drive – although only in one vehicle as slots were limited and had been booked up by lunchtime. For us the real value was trying the vehicles for size without trudging from one showroom to another, and I have to admit that I hadn’t realized just how difficult it would be to find a car boot that would accommodate the wheelchair alongside shopping bags for those retail therapy moments, or a dog!
The MPV type vehicles that don’t require a large down payment just did not give us enough boot space, and we actually could not fit the wheelchair into one jeep – it is important to remember that this car is not yours, it is effectively a leasing agreement albeit an excellent one, so long as you don’t spend out too much in the first place as the car is handed back after 3 years.
However the sky is the limit and if you want to put down a large payment intitially, it is possible to have a plush car with all the trimmings – all down to personal taste & finance.
Having said this, we discovered that there are some excellent deals with some requiring little or no down payment for a really great car. The show definitely helped us to understand what we didn’t want/need and has ultimately this week helped us to choose and order a car that fits my needs on the scheme. With my back problems and the spinal cord stimulator, the seat position and shape is the most important thing – particularly the headrest. The electrode in my back which helps to control my chronic pain is very positional, so I only have to have a headrest in a car or the cinema push my neck forward, and Bang! the scs might just as well be turned off as I can no longer feel it.
Sadly the downside is that when my new shiny, estate car (yes, an estate that accommodates my wheels, my shopping and the dog!) arrives, I currently can’t drive it!
Little post script……I saw a couple of great looking electric scooters too. My fave was the Genny, but at £16k it is just not going to happen; but I wonder if any of you out there have this nifty little number – the Go Chair ?