The number of customers on the Motability scheme has fallen by around 3% meaning there are now 14,800 powerchair and mobility scooter users on the scheme, compared to 15,200 in 2016.
The drop in customers is a result of government reforms to disability benefit assessments which have meant fewer people now qualify for Personal Independent Payments (PIP).
But the scheme maintains 2017 was a positive year for itself and its customers after having achieved a 98% overall customer satisfaction rate. Motability Operations, the group contracted to run the scheme for the Motability charity, turned over £4.2bn in 2017 and its total income rose by nearly £80m to £209m, according to its annual report.
Meanwhile, the group’s chief, Mike Betts, was paid almost £1m in 2017, including a £549,000 base salary and nearly £300,000 in benefits and bonuses.
The scheme, which works with 13 powerchair and scooter manufacturers, enables disabled people to exchange their mobility allowance to lease a new scooter, powerchair or car. The Motability scheme is one of the largest customer pools for mobility retailers in the UK, with some large fleet dealers having in excess of 200 clients on the scheme.
Changes to PIP assessment and the resulting drop in Motability customers is a cause for concern for many in the industry and also for disability groups who are worried about disabled people going without equipment to help keep them mobile.
Earlier this year it was estimated that more than 50,000 clients (45%) had their adapted vehicles taken away since the changes to disability benefits in 2013.