Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Public services all in one place

Main menu

Monday, 27 June 2011

Voucher schemes, hiring or buying a wheelchair

You can fund or part-fund a manual wheelchair using a voucher scheme. Or contact an organisation who give disabled people the opportunity to own or hire powered wheelchairs at an affordable price. Find out more about the different options available to you.

Voucher schemes

Voucher schemes are designed to increase the choice of wheelchairs available to you. Services decide locally whether to have a scheme and how that scheme is applied.

In services that operate a scheme, when you attend a clinic for an assessment of a wheelchair you may find there are three options:

Standard option

You are provided with a wheelchair that will be supplied, repaired and maintained free of charge.

Partnership option

You choose an alternative to the type of wheelchair you are assessed as needing. This lets you to buy a wheelchair of a higher standard than that which the NHS Wheelchair Service supplies. The voucher reflects the value of the wheelchair originally recommended and you then pay the difference in cost.

The wheelchair will be repaired and maintained free of charge.

You have to choose a wheelchair from an 'approved supplier' who has to meet certain standards including quality of service.

Independent option

This is similar to the partnership option but you own the wheelchair and are responsible for its repair and maintenance. However, the voucher you receive will include an amount towards the anticipated costs of repair and maintenance.

Other things you need to know

The voucher period is generally five years and you will not normally be entitled to a new voucher until this period has expired. However, if your needs change - making the wheelchair you have bought unsuitable - you will be eligible for a reassessment of your needs.

You cannot exchange the voucher for cash.  Also, if you buy a wheelchair privately from a commercial company or individual, you cannot 'claim back' the money from the NHS Wheelchair Service.

The voucher is non-taxable so it does not affect any disability benefits you are receiving.

Other ways to get a wheelchair

The Motability Scheme

The Motability Scheme is run by the independent not-for-profit organisation Motability. It gives disabled people the opportunity to own or hire powered wheelchairs and scooters at an affordable price.

The website contains in-depth advice and information.

Charities and other organisations

If you're not eligible for an NHS wheelchair, or you choose to buy or hire a wheelchair yourself, you may be referred. You may be referred to a voluntary organisation or charity such as the British Red Cross who often work in partnership with NHS Wheelchair Services.

Some charities and organisations, like Whizz-Kidz and the Association of Wheelchair Children, provide wheelchair skills training.

Employment - the Access to Work programme

Access to Work provides advice and support to disabled people and their employers to give you the help you need to be able to work. This can include equipment such as wheelchairs.

Commercial companies

There are many companies that hire and sell mobility products - often with someone coming to your home to demonstrate products to you. These can be found by searching online, in disability magazines or in the phonebook.

VAT relief when buying or hiring a wheelchair

VAT relief ('zero-rating') on products and services for disabled people includes wheelchairs and scooters.

Independent advice

If you decide to buy your own wheelchair, make sure you get some advice beforehand. Take your time to shop around and try different models - this way you can make sure that you get a wheelchair you feel comfortable with.

Both RADAR and the Disabled Living Foundation have published some very useful advice which you can download from their respective website.

On the Ricability website, you can access a database of information about what you need to consider when choosing an outdoor powered wheelchair or scooter.

Was this information useful?

How useful did you find this information?

500 character limit
Your Privacy Opens new window

Why are we asking for this information?

  • we want to hear what you think about the quality and usefulness of our pages
  • your comments will help us improve our pages
  • your comments will also help with the future development of Directgov
  • telling us what you think will help make sure we give you the very best service

Access keys