"How Can I Finance My Wheelchair?" "How Can I Get A Free Wheelchair?" "How Can I Get A Grant?"

"How Can I Finance My Wheelchair?" "How Can I Get A Free Wheelchair?" "How Can I Get A Grant?"

What You Need to Know

There are so many things to take into account when getting a wheelchair that it can seem overwhelming at times and the question of price can add a great deal of stress to the situation. If you’re worrying about how you’re going to pay for a wheelchair, there are plenty of options to choose from and yes, in some cases this can mean getting your wheelchair for free!

Can I Get A Free Wheelchair On The NHS?

If you are getting a wheelchair through the NHS, your GP will refer you to their wheelchair services for an assessment where they will look at your mobility needs, as well as other factors such as where you live and where you work.

If the assessment finds you eligible, you will be given two options.

Option 1

You will be offered a choice of wheelchairs free of charge from the ones available on the NHS. It will still be technically owned by the NHS, but the benefit of this is that they’ll be responsible for its repair and maintenance.

However, this is affected by what chairs they have available in your area and can mean you won’t get an ideal chair. Furthermore, the system is massively overloaded and waiting times are long.

For most people, it takes around 3-6 months to get a chair, with this varying depending on where you are in England. The wheelchair repair service has also been known to be inefficient and can result in people waiting for repairs and replacement parts.

Option 2

You will be offered a personal wheelchair budget. This is an amount of money determined from your assessment which can be put towards buying a wheelchair. One of the main benefits of a wheelchair budget is that you get more control over which wheelchair you receive.
The money can be used to get a wheelchair from the NHS or a private supplier so that you can be sure to have a wheelchair that suits you. It can also be used towards a more expensive chair if you are able to fund the remainder of the cost, allowing you to afford wheelchairs you couldn’t before.

Unfortunately the budget system, like the voucher system that preceded it, is affected by the underfunded NHS and for many it is simply not possible to get a wheelchair through these schemes.

Can I Get A Government Grant?

If you are working or looking for work, then you may be eligible for assistance from Access To Work. Access To Work is a government grant-based initiative to help people with disabilities in the workplace, whether full-time, part-time, temporary, or self-employed.

You can also be eligible for an Access To Work grant if you are doing an apprenticeship, internship or if you are about to start a job, provided you can show a job offer letter, start date or letter confirming an interview.

Access To Work will not pay the full cost of a wheelchair, as the grant amount that’s paid towards the wheelchair is calculated based on how many days a week you work, with the remainder of the cost being paid by you. This is known as the “Social And Domestic Contribution.”

Where Else Can I Get Financial Support For A Wheelchair?

There are charities all over the UK that are committed to providing equal access to care and equipment for people with disabilities. In many cases, these charities give out grants to help pay for necessary equipment, including wheelchairs.

Let’s take a look at a selection of the main charities involved..


Motability is probably the biggest of these charities and is dedicated to providing motorised transport - wheelchairs, scooters or cars - to people with disabilities.

If you are receiving a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for a condition that affects your mobility, then you should receive a portion of your payment that is specifically allotted to mobility. With Motability, some or all of your mobility component can be used to lease a wheelchair or scooter.

Motability also offers grants, so if you are getting a wheelchair through the Access To Work program, Motability offers a grant that can cover the surplus amount you would have to pay.

The Joseph Patrick Trust

The Joseph Patrick Trust is the grants subsidiary of Muscular Dystrophy UK and it provides funding for electric wheelchairs and other essential equipment to people with muscular dystrophy or similar neuromuscular conditions. They cannot cover the full costs of equipment but can award up to £1,090 towards an electric wheelchair.


The Barchester Foundation

The Barchester Foundation offers grants for older people and adults with disabilities and mental health conditions. The average grant from the charity in 2020 was £900 but they can award as much as £5,000 to individuals, however, it’s not possible for the applicant to apply on their own behalf. You will need a third party who is neither a friend nor family member to fill out and submit your application.


Southern Spinal Injuries Trust

Southern Spinal Injuries Trust is a regional charity based in the South Of England that unsurprisingly helps individuals with spinal injuries and they’re able to provide a grant towards covering a portion of the wheelchair cost.

To apply you will need to have already asked for funding from the NHS Wheelchair Services and you’ll also need to have a Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist assess you to select the right equipment. That said, they only accept applications from certain counties so you will need to check your eligibility.


Independence At Home

Independence At Home offers grants to anybody who is a UK resident with a disability and facing financial hardship. This includes funding for wheelchairs, but again, individuals cannot apply for themselves, so you will need a professional worker who is supporting you to submit the application on your behalf along with all relevant medical documents.


The Hospital Saturday Fund

The Hospital Saturday Fund can provide full or partial grants towards the cost of medical equipment including wheelchairs.

Other charities worth considering include:

  • Handicapped Children’s Action

  • Brittle Bone Society

  • Friends Of Huck

  • Regain

  • Newlife

  • Blesma

  • Elifar

  • Glasspool

  • Caudwell Children

  • Family Fund

  • Variety

  • Whizz Kidz


How Do I Apply For A Grant?

For a complete breakdown of the application processes of each charity, you will have to visit each specific website. As a general rule, however, there are a few things it helps to know beforehand that will help with the application. You might not need all of them for every application but it helps to have them on hand just in case.

It will help you if you can provide:

The Wheelchair Model You’re Looking For


Firstly, it helps to have a specific wheelchair in mind. Ideally this will have been recommended by a physiotherapist and you may even have had a chance to try it out for suitability. Get a quote from a supplier for the wheelchair you want so you can show how you’ll be spending their grant.

Details of How You’re Paying the Balance

If the grant is only partially funding the equipment you might need to explain where you’ll get the rest of the money and you may need to include your income details on some applications.

You will usually need to provide evidence of a medical condition. If you don’t have copies of any medical documents your doctor can provide them. In some cases, the charity might arrange a home visit before accepting your application.

Are There Other Charities I Can Contact?

The charities listed in this post are not exhaustive and Turn2Us is another charity focused on helping people financially. Their website includes a search feature to help you find suitable grants for you based on your location, health, and other factors - so it’s always worth doing some research of your own!

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Your financial situation should not be an obstacle towards getting the care you need. Thankfully, people across the country are committed to ensuring fairness and equality in access to care and you have plenty of options for getting financial help.
We hope you have found our blog both interesting and informative and if you take one thing from reading it, it should be that where there’s a will, there’s a way, so don’t give up!
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