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In the summer Highways England will be introducing new traffic cameras onto the nation’s smart motorways. These new cameras will be able to spot drivers who illegally use lanes that are marked with a red ’X’ symbol. Using smart motorway lanes when they have been closed in this way is punishable by a £100 fine and three points on the individual’s driving licence. However, at the moment offending drivers will only receive this punishment if they are caught driving down a closed lane by a police officer. The introduction of these cameras will mean that all of the drivers who flout this law will automatically receive the fine and the penalty points for doing so.

Half of the people who recently took part in a survey conducted by the RAC said that they often spot other drivers using closed lanes on smart motorways, despite the vast majority of motorists knowing the meaning of the red ‘X’ symbol. Nicholas Lyes, Head of Roads Policy at the RAC commented: “Giving the police the ability to use cameras to catch drivers flouting the law is a necessary next step – and is something our research tells us a majority of drivers are supportive of. The simple message for drivers is this – as soon as you see a red X sign, move over into an open lane safely.”

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The award winning accessible holidays provider and DMUK corporate member, Enable Holidays  has recently released a new 2019 holidays brochure. This particular brochure is focused on accessible holidays for those who do not wish to fly. The types of holidays on offer include city breaks, cultural experiences, beach holidays and more. All of the holiday destinations on offer can either be reached by car, ferry crossing, Eurostar, Euro Tunnel or local connecting railways and the places you can visit include the UK, France, Holland, Germany and Spain. Enable Holidays can also arrange self-drive road trips across continental Europe for anyone who wants to get out onto the open road.

Whenever you book with Enable Holidays your booking will include specialist planning to meet individual requirements, a guaranteed adapted room upon confirmation of booking and pre-booked adapted taxi transfers if required. The new holidays brochure for ‘non-flyers’ can be viewed on the Enable Holidays website or you can call 0330 380 6800.

DMUK members are entitled to a special 10% discount on any new overseas Enable booking all you need to do is call the company direct and confirm that you are a DMUK member.     

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It has been confirmed that changes to the eligibility criteria for the Blue Badge scheme will come into effect on 30th August 2019.

Following a consultation in 2018 the government announced that it will be extending the Blue Badge eligibility criteria to include people with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as dementia, autism and a number of mental health conditions. The new legislation has now been confirmed and after the 30th August 2019 people with ‘hidden’ disabilities will find it easier to obtain a Blue Badge.

From this date the assessed criteria will now be that a person who has been certified by an expert assessor as having an enduring and substantial disability which causes them, during the course of a journey, to—

be unable to walk; experience very considerable difficulty whilst walking, which may include very considerable psychological distress; or be at risk of serious harm when walking; or pose, when walking, a risk of serious harm to any other person;

The legislation also removes the requirement of an ‘independent mobility assessor’ and is replaced by the term ‘expert assessor’

DMUK took part in the consultation in 2018 and raised concerns over the possible effect the expansion would have on already limited disabled parking. DMUK urged the Department for Transport (DfT) to be realistic in its thinking. Just extending the criteria will not necessarily mean that more disabled people will benefit. Actually this change may have disastrous consequences for all Blue Badge holders, especially wheelchair users, as there is simply not enough parking to meet demand and concessions could soon disappear because of increased numbers.

Many organisations have welcomed this change. There is no argument that people with hidden disabilities will benefit from having a Blue Badge and DMUK also supports this. However, the increase in demand may undermine the entire scheme and render it not fit for purpose. The end result may mean it will let down the people it was originally intended to help as well as disabled people with hidden disabilities.

DMUK advised the DfT to consider proper enforcement of the scheme before it looked to extend the scheme. The charity predicts that when number of Blue Badge holders increases from August 2019 we will be contacted more and more by disabled people who find their Blue Badge completely meaningless as they will be unable to find adequate parking because it will be so oversubscribed.

We implore all local authorities and private parking operators to prepare for the change properly, review their disabled parking provision and stress the importance that they all enforce disabled parking properly so that these bays are kept free only for genuine Blue Badge holders. If this is not achieved the Blue Badge scheme could soon lose all of its integrity.  

DMUK CEO, Graham Footer commented: “DMUK works to support the mobility of disabled people and there is no dispute that people with certain mental health conditions and cognitive disabilities could benefit from having a Blue Badge. However, the charity is very concerned that from August onwards numbers of Blue Badge holders will dramatically increase which will put more pressure on limited disabled parking which is poorly enforced and in some areas of the country not enforced at all. We are asking that all local authorities and private operators review their disabled parking provision now, before the change comes into force to make sure that they can manage increased demand.”

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The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) is looking for more disabled people to sign up as RiDC researchers. If you do decide to sign up as an RiDC researcher you will be working on behalf of disabled and older people to help ensure that the products and services they may wish to use are as accessible as possible. The research panel will soon reach the milestone of having 1,000 members and as an incentive for signing up the 1,000th member to join the panel will receive a shopping voucher worth £150. There will also be an extra prize of £50 for one lucky winner who signs up during this promotional period too. You can sign up to become a member of the panel either by calling 020 7427 2460 or visiting the website

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The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has recently launched a service which allows motorists who have misplaced the car’s MOT certificate to print it off at home rather than having to pay £10 for a replacement copy. In 2018 630,000 replacement MOTs were issued and this cost British motorists a collective amount of more than £6 million. The new online system allows motorists to view, save and print the MOT certificate for their car, van or motorcycle as long as it was issued after 20th May 2018. The service will be made available for those who have buses, lorries and/or coaches later in the year. Neil Barlow, Head of Vehicle Engineering at the DVSA commented: “We want to make sure that motorists have the information they need to keep their vehicle safe to drive. The free copy MOT certificate service gives consumers choice and saves them time and money. The service will also help us to protect consumers by giving them a free alternative to businesses that charge for a copy MOT certificate online.” If you would like to use the service you can do so by visiting https://www.gov.uk/replacing-lost-damaged-mot-certificate.

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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is pleased to announce that 46,000 people have searched for a job using the Disability Confident online job search tool since it became part of the government online job search engine in November 2018. Disability Confident has been labelled the government’s “flagship” scheme dedicated to the employment of disabled people and recent figures show that 11,000 employers across England have signed up to become part of it with the number increasing each week. The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson, commented: “Recruiting disabled talent isn’t an act of charity – it’s what smart employers are doing to get ahead of the competition.” If you would like to search for Job vacancies posted by Disability Confident Employers then you can do so by visiting https://findajob.dwp.gov.uk/ and using the ‘Advanced search’ option.

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An increasing number of motorists now have to pay for parking using various forms of digital technology. This means that motorists are required to input their vehicle’s registration number manually to ensure that the payment is attributed to the correct vehicle.  If the registration is inputted wrongly then the motorist in question is liable to receive a PCN. With this in mind, the IPC has launched a new campaign called ‘Get Your Reg Right’ to highlight how important it is that motorists make sure the information they provide when they paying for a ticket is correct. While the responsibility of ensuring this information is accurate ultimately lies with the motorists there are other factors involved. The IPC also wants to use the campaign to encourage operators and local authorities to put processes in place to deal with minor typographical errors and persuade technology manufactures and service providers to design technology that is easier for motorists to use. The Minister for Local Government, Rishi Sunak, commented: “No one wants to receive a parking charge for making silly mistake when entering their vehicle registration number into a Pay and Display machine or parking validation terminal. Motorists, car park operators, service providers and equipment manufacturers all have an important role to play in ensuring that obvious and inadvertent errors do not lead to unjustified charges. I am pleased to support the IPC’s ‘Get Your Reg Right’ campaign, which will promote best practice to ensure fairness and common sense prevails”.

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Highways England will be removing 459 miles worth of roadworks from the nation’s motorways and major A-roads between 6am on Thursday 18th April and 12:01am on Tuesday 23 April. According to Highways England this will mean that 99% of our motorways and major A-roads will be free of roadworks over the Easter period. Highways England traffic officers will be working throughout this time to help any motorists who may run into difficulties during their journeys. Highways England’s Customer Service Director, Melanie Clarke, commented: “We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible this Easter and that’s why we’re keeping around 99 per cent of the road network we manage, free from roadworks. Safety is our top priority and we know from experience that almost half of breakdowns can easily be avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before setting off over this period.”

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The First Joint Report of the Work and Pensions and Treasury Committees into the Motability Scheme was released on the 21st May 2018 and stated that Motability “badly needs a new road map” for its finances. Below is a summary of the report

MPs have criticised the independence of the organisation. Motability the charity does not put the administration of the scheme out to competitive tender and Motability Operations donates its surplus reserves back to the charity. The third entity ‘Motability Tenth Anniversary Trust’ also shares its Chairman with Motability the charity so cannot be deemed an independent body.

Motability Operations receive two tax breaks from government. It does not pay VAT on the vehicles and it is exempt from Insurance Premium Tax which comes to a saving of £700 million per year. Motability Operations does not have to competitively tender from the exemptions.  For the Government to provide tax reliefs to one company alone, especially without requiring the company to competitively tender for such reliefs, makes it, in effect, a monopoly supplier sustained by public money. MPs have asked The Department for Work and Pensions to explain why providing such state assistance in the absence of competition is an appropriate use of public money.

The report states that reserves held by the Motability Operations are far too high in relation to risk the company face and it believes if the reserves were used appropriately they could make prices lower for customers or increase their charity donations.

Four retails banks own Motability Operations which have been making considerable profits of £700,000 per year. It does not sit comfortably with the committee that at times of pressures on the welfare budget the banks have been making these profits from a risk free charitable scheme.

In terms of executive pay the committee does not agree with Motability that they should have comparable executive pay to a FTSE 250 company as it does not face the same risks or stresses of such companies. The report states that: “Motability Operations exists in a state-sponsored monopoly”. With its tax exemptions the scheme can be much cheaper than other car leasing schemes so it will never struggle to attract customers, it does not have to compete for its contract, there are no shareholder pressures and it is not a credit risk as it runs on government payments.

The Committees, the Department for Work and Pensions, and Motability are all in agreement that a National Audit Office-led value for money inquiry into the Motability Scheme and the organisations running it should be carried out. The Committees recommend that DWP ask the NAO to carry out a review under s6(3)d of the National Audit Act 1983.

Commenting on the Report, Rt Hon. Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: "It is impossible to calculate the human happiness that has resulted from the freedom and independence that Motability scheme—the first and only scheme of its kind—offers disabled people. 

But the organisation operates as a monopoly that faces no competition in accessing disabled people’s often hard-won PIP benefits.

The levels of pay pocketed by its executives and the cash reserves it is hoarding are totally out of whack with reality of its position in the market. That one member of staff is paid over ten times what the Prime Minister earns, is one example of where Motability needs to get a grip of itself and realise the privileged position in which it trades.

Its executives must co-operate with a full NAO investigation into the value it is offering the taxpayers who fund a significant chunk of its operations."

Joint statement from Motability and Motability Operations: “We note today’s (21st May 2018) Work and Pensions and Treasury Committees’ report into the Motability Scheme. We welcome that the report recognises that the Scheme ‘provides an extremely valuable service to disabled people’ and one that has helped ‘millions of disabled people… have their lives greatly enhanced’. 

“This reflects our priorities of always providing outstanding customer service, value for money, sustainability, and putting disabled people and their families on the road to freedom.

“The National Audit Office will now look at the Scheme - something Motability the charity, and Motability Operations had made clear they would welcome before the Select Committees began their inquiry.

“In line with Lord Sterling’s statement to the Joint Committee inquiry on 5 March, he wrote to the Committee Chairs on Thursday 17 May, confirming our agreement to a review under s6(3)(d) of the National Audit Act 1983 (see attached). We look forward to engaging with the NAO as it conducts its review.”

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Annual General Meeting 2018

The Thirteenth Annual General Meeting of Disabled Motoring UK will be held on Saturday 19th May 2018 at 11am at Brooklands Museum Trust, Brooklands Road, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 0QN.

Participation at the AGM is open to all members of the charity. Only full members may vote, either in person or by proxy. If you plan to come to the AGM, please register your attendance in advance with Head Office so that we can provide you with a voting card. You may also obtain a voting card on the day by producing your valid membership card. Alternatively you can vote online, in the Members Area.

A full copy of the Trustees' Report and Financial Statements is available to download in the Members Area

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