Getting your own wheels
This information aims to help individuals considering buying a cycle as a mobility aid.
Know what you want / need
Buying a non-standard cycle, like a handcycle or e-cycle, can be very expensive. But there are several ways in which you might be able to get financial help, depending on your eligibility and individual circumstances. We suggest you consider a range of options before buying, to ensure that you choose a cycle that will be most useful for you, that will last and continue to meet your needs.
Local social services and local cycling schemes
If you are eligible for social care services, you may receive a Personal Budget/Direct Payment through your local authority to help with your social care and support needs. You may also receive a Personal Health Budget through the NHS to help with your healthcare needs.
We are yet to hear of anyone who has successfully used a personal budget to obtain a non-standard cycle (and it is unclear as to whether this would even be an option, as personal budgets are typically used to buy services), but if you have succeeded in doing so, or know someone who has, we would love to hear from you.
Access to Work Scheme
If you are disabled and in work, you may wish to consider the government’s Access to Work scheme, through which you could be entitled to a grant to help pay for special equipment and adaptations to equipment used for getting to your place of work.
Cycle to Work Scheme
Cycle to Work is a salary sacrifice scheme that allows employers to loan cycles and cycle equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit. The Green Commute Initiative is an alternative cycle loan scheme.
In 2019 the Government published new guidance on the Cycle to Work scheme, which will benefit Disabled cyclists by making it easier for employers to provide cycles and e-cycles worth over £1,000 (it was previously understood to be capped at £1,000).
Local authority cycle loan and ‘try before you buy’ schemes
Some local authorities may provide schemes that allow you to loan a cycle, for example a fold-up bicycle or e-cycle, or to try one out before buying it. Peddle My Wheels runs a ‘try before you bike scheme’, with adapted cycles being included in the scheme for those living and/or working in the London boroughs of Lambeth, Croydon and Waltham Forest.
Applying for a grant is an option for those who do not feel they can fund the full purchase of an adapted cycle. There are many grant-giving organisations in the UK, so it’s important to target the ones that are most likely to make you an award.
A charity associated with your impairment or long term health condition is the best contact point to start your funding search. They will understand your needs better than most and may even be able to help you make an application.
There are many grant-giving organisations in the UK, and so you should ensure that you read all guidance carefully and assess whether an application would be appropriate. It is a good idea to phone or email an organisation in advance of making an application, to check that your request is within their remit.
Grant providers usually require evidence of need before they will approve an application for grant. It is helpful to include a letter or information from a professional, such as a physiotherapist, detailing the benefits that a cycle would bring. Benefits might be improving your physical fitness, enhancing your mental wellbeing, improving your social life, making everyday journeys easier and enabling you to live more independently.
Some starting points for finding a grant provider are listed below:
- Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help: http://www.turn2us.org.uk/grants_search.aspx
- Family Fund is the UK’s largest provider of grants to low-income families raising disabled and seriously ill children and young people: http://www.familyfund.org.uk/
- Disability Grants directory: http://www.disability-grants.org/
- Regain Sports Charity: https://regainsportscharity.com/
- Consider contacting your local Rotary Club: https://my.rotary.org/en/search/club-finder and Lions Club: https://www.lionsclubs.org/en/start-our-approach/club-locator
- If the cycle is for a child, try Variety Club Children’s Charity: https://www.variety.org.uk/what-we-do/equipment-grants
- Tomcat also have a very useful page on support with funding: https://tomcatuk.org/support-with-funding/
There are a number of methods, old and new, that you can try to raise funds to help you fund a cycle purchase. In the current climate of social networking and online interaction, individual funds and causes have previously gone viral and surpassed required targets.
There are opportunities for quick online fundraising through Crowdfunding, set your cause and target and let people back it.
- There are opportunities for quick online fundraising through crowdfunding, where you can set your cause and target, and let people back it. http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/
- Go Fund Me is recommended by a cyclist who was able to raise over £2,000 to buy their own recumbent trike. http://www.gofundme.com/
- Tree of Hope will help coordinate and promote online fundraising by/for individuals: http://www.treeofhope.org.uk
- There are lots of other traditional ways of raising funds at home, at work, with friends and through simple methods such as a bake sale, a sweepstake or by throwing a party.
- Individual offline fundraising could be a great way to raise contributions towards a cycle purchase as you can personally engage with your networks of friends, family and colleagues and they can really feel a part of your fundraising process.
Unfortunately, the answer to this is not straight-forward.
If you’re disabled or have a long-term illness then you won’t be charged VAT on a product for your own personal or domestic use if it has been designed or adapted solely and exclusively for use by a Disabled person. A product that meets your Disability needs but has not been design specifically for Disabled people will not qualify for VAT relief. For example, an adaptive cycle for a Disabled person would qualify (it has been design specifically for a Disabled person’s use), but an e-assist adaptation for a cycle would not (it has been designed for use by either able-bodied or Disabled people). It should state in a manufacturer’s specification report whether or not a cycle was solely designed for use by a Disabled person).
According to the government’s guidance on VAT relief: “Equipment or appliances designed for general use or designed for use by disabled and able-bodied people alike won’t qualify for VAT relief”.
Based on this guidance, an assumption might reasonably be made that some types of non-standard cycle do not qualify for VAT relief because they can be, and often are, used by both disabled and non-disabled people alike (take recumbent trikes, for instance). Conversely, other types of non-standard cycle, such as handcycles, are unlikely to be purchased by anyone other than a Disabled person, and so you might reasonably expect to claim VAT relief on such a product. However, in practice, the experiences of Disabled cyclists is mixed.
Wheels for Wellbeing believes that existing guidance on VAT and non-standard cycles is inadequate and unclear. Given the range of non-standard cycles available, and the varying needs of Disabled cyclists, we are calling on the government to commit to reviewing existing guidance so that disabled customers have clarity and confidence on this issue.
We welcome your comments and experiences so that we can keep this information up to date. Please contact us with any further information you may have.