At first glance, there seems to be a bit of an anomaly when buying cars: if you buy a vehicle with VAT Relief on it (i.e. a NEW one) you are also entitled to zero rated VAT on servicing.
But if you are buying a 2nd hand (used) car, if you don't buy an already adapted car or one that is zero rated, then then the servicing is not zero rated for VAT. This would seem to benefit only people with more money: a classic HMRC-ism?
Not quite! Well there is a way to buy which not enough people seem to know about, and which you should know about, as it might save you quite a bit of money over the years.
Buy a 2nd hand car from a VAT registered trader and they will be part of the Car Margin Scheme. This means they pay the VAT on the profit they make on the car. Provided you meet the eligibility requirements for HMRC, they can take a car out of the margin scheme and zero rate it for you. This means you pay them less than the price shown and your ongoing servicing will now be zero rated.
They may not know about this, so you may need to do your own homework and educate them. ** Have a close look at page 4 of HMRC's About Purchasing Zero-Rated Adapted Vehicles (Guidance for Suppliers) document. It tells you exactly what you need to know about VAT exemptions! **
And there is also this link to the relevant HMRC Notice 701/59 - Motor Vehicles for Disabled People - tells you (and the dealer) all you need to know!
When you need someone to install the hand controls, the Fitters and Suppliers of Car Controls and Adaptions in the UK Factsheet by the Forum of Mobility Centres is a great starting point. Or you can visit the four main manufacturers own websites and find details and an installer this way (in no particular order):
HOWEVER, have a look at our section on Adapted Vehicles, as you may save yourself much time and energy, and get the right vehicle for you! After all, the work has been done for you by the seller!
If you need more advice, there is an excellent organisation called Disabled Motoring UK. Mobilise is the campaigning charity for disabled motorists, passengers and Blue Badge holders. Join them to receive their monthly magazine, access their casework services and lend your voice to their campaigns. OR just call them for more information.
Another committed, independent and helpful organisation is RICA who have just revamped their website and offer some fantastic advice, stats and comparisons on all aspects of motoring. Definitely have a look and if you're still not sure, get in touch with them.
Also, see the government's advice page called: Thinking of Buying this Vehicle? Buyer Beware...
And in the meantime, click on the link if you need to rent an adapted car in the UK. It's also worth knowing about Lynx Hand Controls which are portable hand controls, which "take 5 minutes to install and 30 seconds to remove" according to the manufacturer. They are fully tested and already used in conjunction with a number of car hire companies.
Finally, a useful website if you are driving abroad and want to know what parking rules and concessions are available with your blue badge, is: The FIA Guide for the Disabled Traveller.