Probe Over Wheelchair ‘Car Fraud’

Six disabled people have been arrested in connection with what is believed to be the widespread abuse of a scheme to help wheelchair-users buy cars.

An investigation for BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme revealed some had repeatedly bought high-value cars VAT free, then sold them for huge profits.

The BBC’s Shari Vahl said it was believed those involved had made hundreds of thousands of pounds.

One group is now under investigation by the government and police.

The case will be dealt with by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and South Yorkshire Police Fraud Squad.

The DWP has launched an investigation into alleged benefit fraud and six people have been released on police bail pending further inquiries into alleged money laundering offences.

Wheelchair-users are allowed to buy new cars – adapted for them – free of 17.5% VAT, but only for personal use.

A specific group of wheelchair users is now under investigation over allegations that, using their disabled status, they bought up to 60 new high specification Range Rovers each over the last two years.

They allegedly removed the adaptations and sold them as new immediately to a dealer for a profit.

Bentleys, Maseratis, Porches and Lamborghinis are also understood to have been traded in this way.

Such a scheme would have meant brand new highly-desirable cars, sometimes with long waiting lists, were being made available to the public at substantial discounts while the wheelchair-users and dealers concerned made profits at the expense of the Exchequer.