Social Security Experience Panels: Accessible Vehicles and Equipment Scheme

This report covers responses by Experience Panels members to a survey to inform the future development of Social Security Scotland’s Accessible Vehicles and Equipment (AVE) scheme.

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Social Security Experience Panels: Accessible Vehicles and Equipment Scheme


The Scottish Government is becoming responsible for some of the benefits currently delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). As part of the work to prepare for this change, the Scottish Government set up the Social Security Experience Panels. Panel members are people from across Scotland who have recent experience of at least one of the benefits coming to Scotland.

Over 2,400 people registered as Experience Panel members when it launched in 2017. The Scottish Government is working with Experience Panel members to design a new social security system that works for the people of Scotland, based on the principles of dignity, fairness and respect.

From April to May 2022, Experience Panel members took part in research to inform the future development of Social Security Scotland’s Accessible Vehicles and Equipment (AVE) scheme. 277 members chose to complete a short survey to support this work. This short survey was designed to identify panel members with experience of the current scheme and to hear about their overall experiences of using this service.

About the Accessible Vehicles and Equipment (AVE) Scheme

The Accessible Vehicles and Equipment (AVE) Scheme helps to provide disabled people in Scotland with access to vehicles or mobility equipment.

Anyone receiving the higher rate mobility component of Child Disability Payment, or the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Adult Disability Payment, will be able to exchange their allowance to lease a car, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV), scooter or powered wheelchair through the Government's Accessible Vehicles and Equipment Scheme. Adult Disability Payment will be delivered by Social Security Scotland and it will replace Personal Independence Payment in Scotland.

Motability is currently the Scottish Government’s approved provider of this scheme and they are also the provider of the equivalent DWP scheme. There may be additional providers in the future. As Motability are currently the only provider of the scheme, ‘Motability’ is used by the participants as a shorthand for the scheme as a whole. It is important to remember, however, that Motability provide the service on behalf of Social Security Scotland and DWP and work within the constraints set out by them. In this report we will use ‘AVE’ to refer to the service delivered as a whole, and ‘Motability’ when referring specifically to that scheme, or when quoting panel members.

How the AVE scheme works

DWP or Social Security Scotland clients who receive the highest rate mobility element of their qualifying disabilty benefit, have the option to use their mobility element to access an accessible vehicle or mobility equipment, like a scooter, through the AVE scheme. This option is limited to child disability benefits and working-age disability benefits. It is not an option for people in receipt of Attendance Allowance, which does not have a mobility element.

The AVE scheme, delivered by Motability, works with associated vehicle dealerships, garages and servicing providers to allow clients to source a suitable vehicle. They may be required to provide an advanced payment, the value of which is dependent on the vehicle’s price and the cost of adaptations. The mobility element of their qualifying benefit will then cover the ongoing lease and associated costs of the vehicle, including road tax, insurance, road-side assistance, servicing, repairs and MOTs. Clients are required to use dealerships, garages and servicing providers that are associated with the scheme. Insurance and road-side assistance are provided by RAC Limited.

Profits made by Motability through this scheme are paid into the Motability charity, which provides grants to help disabled people on lower incomes to access vehicles and equipment that they need for mobility. This includes grants to cover the cost of driving lessons, as well as grants to help towards meeting the cost of advanced payments on Motability vehicles. Clients who receive a grant are offered a choice of vehicles based on what is determined to be their needs in a vehicle. The Motability charity publishes guidance on accessing the grant scheme on its website.

About the Research

Fieldwork for this research took place in April and May 2022. The research was conducted using a survey which could be completed online, over the phone, or by post. 277 panel members took part in this survey. Panel members represent a diverse range of people with experience of using the AVE scheme and the relevant qualifying benefits, so provide a wide ranging perspective. However, it is important to note that this is not a representative sample of AVE users, or benefit recipients, and the findings should be understood in that context.

Who took part

Participants were asked to provide basic contact information to allow their survey responses to be matched with existing data held relating to their demographic information. Not all Experience Panel members have provided complete demographic information, and it was not possible to match all survey respondents. Demographic data matching was possible for 243 survey respondents (88 per cent). Some of those respondents had not provided us with data relating to all protected characteristics. This demographic information is provided in full in Annex A, with an overview provided in this section.

92 per cent of respondents had told us that they have a disability or long-term health condition. Seven in ten (71 per cent) respondents said that they had a physical disability, with a further seven in ten (71 per cent) saying they had another long-term condition. Other respondents said they had deafness or severe hearing impairment, blindness or severe vision impairment, or a learning disability.

60 per cent said that they had a caring responsibility, with around half (49 per cent) saying that they care for a disabled adult. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) said that they cared for someone due to older age, and one in seven (14 per cent) for a disabled child.

Almost half (45 per cent) of respondents were aged 45-59 years old, and two in five (40 per cent) were aged 60-79. Almost three in five (57 per cent) identified as female, or as a woman or girl.

Almost all (96 per cent) of respondents were white. Almost half (48 per cent) said that they had no religion or belief, and almost a quarter (24 per cent) said that they belonged to the Church of Scotland.

More than four in five (84 per cent) identified as heterosexual or straight, with one in ten (10 per cent) identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual or in another way. One per cent of respondents identified as transgender.



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