Mary Dejevsky: Purge the fraudsters – but it's not the disabled who are fiddling the system

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

My name is Mary and, er, I drive a Motability car. I feel duty bound to admit this, because Motability – thanks in part to government efforts to stem the rise in invalidity payments and in part to revelations in Sunday newspapers – is fast becoming just another insult hurled by the able-bodied at those they believe to be milking their disabilities. Only yesterday the Daily Mail "exposed" a lottery winner who still claimed every last penny in benefits and his Motability car.

It's important to sift fact from fiction. Motability is a scheme that leases cars, some of them specially adapted, to disabled people. The cars are not handed out free: people pay out of the mobility element of their disability benefits, which is then docked at source. If you choose to lease a car, you will have to find the money for other things you might need to get around – a scooter, for instance, or taxis – from your own resources. You can also pay extra to widen the choice of car. Whatever you decide, though, makes no difference to the taxpayer. Those who qualify for a mobility allowance receive it anyway.

The reason I drive a Motability car is because my husband has Parkinson's Disease and walks only with difficulty. The cost takes quite a chunk out of his income – which is minimal, because most other benefits are means-tested according to my salary. And I drive the car because his condition means he can't. If we were both entirely mobile, we might well not keep a car. Motability, a government-assisted scheme, makes driving that bit cheaper and more convenient than it would otherwise be.

Like much relating to benefits, Motability has been abused. Teenagers were reportedly driving around in £30k BMWs, and there were relatives and friends taking advantage of someone's eligibility to acquire a new car on favourable terms. It happens, and probably still will, even though Motability has tightened its rules.

I suspect, though, that the nefarious exploitation of Motability – including by dealers trying to maximise custom – is nothing compared with the endemic abuse of blue badges. Every so often I have words with someone walking briskly, and quite unaided, from a car they've just left in a disabled bay. The latest was a young woman in towering stilettos, who emerged from a car with a personalised plate and an Ealing parking permit. Often, as she did, they point to the badge in their window.

And how are wardens to know, unless they see someone actually leaving the car, that she is probably not the person entitled to the badge or, if she is, that something has to be wrong with a system that awards her a blue badge, but ruled my 80-plus mother with a disabling foot problem ineligible.

A couple of years ago, I saw someone making a copy of a blue badge in a print-shop and thought nothing of it. Now, I would ask why. And if that, or challenging someone not obviously entitled to privileged parking, is called abusing the disabled, I demur. I'd call it showing civic responsibility.

Just get me to the airport on time

You might call it the Andy Murray tendency. We British have a wonderful knack of getting something almost right, and then failing at the final point. The Gatwick Express, the train that takes half an hour to cover what by road takes at least twice that, has at once raised its prices and stopped ticket purchase on board. So everyone has to buy a ticket before boarding – which results in queuing, fumbling for currency or cards, new opportunities for thieves, and general mayhem. They want you to buy well in advance, but why, when you can't be sure it will run?

How much of what is saved by not having a conductor on the train is lost from the general crossness of travellers? The Heathrow Express, even more expensive, still offers purchase on board at a premium. Is convenience, perhaps, something only presumed business travellers can expect? Meanwhile, both services have this infuriating advertising pitch about discounts and "deals". Please, we're not going for a fun trip to the bazaar, we're just trying to get home or on holiday. And we want a smooth journey at a fair price, with minimal hassle in between.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Technical Support Analyst (C++, Windows, Linux, Perl, Graduate)

£30000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global leader in trading platforms and e...

Junior IT Consultant (SQL, Java, C++, Oracle, Graduate)

£28000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A fast growing consultancy to the financia...

Technical Support Analyst (Windows, Linux, Unix, Graduate)

£30000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Support Analyst - Liverpool Stre...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Sami Khedira of Germany runs past Oscar of Brazil with the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between Brazil and Germany  

If they weren't obsessed with instant profits, England could have a team as good as Germany’s

Mark Steel
Will Lord Patten be able to bring the Vatican into the 20th century?  

Say a little prayer for Lord Patten — the Vatican works in mysterious ways

Peter Popham
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil