For most, learning to drive is one of those investments for which you just have to grit your teeth and save up. Some people, though, do qualify for financial help with driving lessons. Charities and councils offer grants to individuals in certain situations, usually reserving their help for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses, their carers, or anyone leaving care.
They are usually means-tested (dependent on you having a low household income), and range from paying for a provisional licence to covering a full set of 40 lessons. But even if you don’t qualify for any help towards your lessons, there are things you can do to keep things more affordable. Take a look below to see if you are eligible for any financial assistance with learning to drive, and other ways to keep costs down.
Lots of people with disabilities or long-term illnesses struggle to get about. If that’s you, you may qualify for a grant to help pay for driving lessons that will allow you more freedom.
You don’t automatically get help towards driving lessons if you get Personal Independence Payment (PIP), but receiving PIP might make you eligible for a grant towards your lessons (see Motability). Even if you don’t qualify for additional funding, PIP can help you with transportation and other costs, which may help you to save up to learn to drive.
Am I eligible?
✓ Your illness or disability impacts on your ability to complete your day-to-day living needs and/or you find it difficult to be totally mobile.
Take a good look at these pages by Turn2Us to see whether you might be able to claim PIP. They talk you through the various difficulties that you may experience, and to what extent they will make you eligible for PIP. Use these notes when completing your application to give you the best chance of securing the benefit.
How to apply: You, or someone on your behalf, will usually need to call the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to kickstart your claim.
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Some people who receive PIP or DLA (Daily Living Allowance) can apply for a grant for up to 40 hours of driving lessons through the charity Motability. You’ll have to pay for your theory and practical tests, but, based on an average lesson price of £26, this will save you roughly £1040.
Am I eligible?
✓ You must already benefit from the Motability scheme, or be due to receive a vehicle from them within four months. ✓ You must also be on a means-tested benefit. This is so that more people on low household incomes can take advantage of the grant.
Other requirements: → Your own provisional licence
→ Once you qualify for a driving lessons grant, it’s your prerogative to book and pass your theory test → You’ll need to have regular lessons, and ideally take your practical test within a year of starting to drive
How to apply: Head to the Motability Driving Lessons Grant Programme and follow the instructions on there.
Family Fund offer a Driving Ambitions grant for young people with a disability or long-term illness. The fund can be used towards a provisional licence, theory and practical tests—saving you a total of £119. They'll also supply you with materials that will help you pass the theory, which you can use alongside our guides. However, in terms of help towards driving lessons, Family Fund only offers one taster lesson.
Am I eligible?
✓ You're 16 or 17 years old
✓ You must not have started driving lessons yet
How to apply: You can opt to apply online, download an application form, or have Family Fund send one out to you. All three options are available on their website.
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Many people would benefit from being able to drive in their role as a carer, but not everyone can afford lessons. There are various grants that may be able to help with funding as you learn to drive, but options vary greatly. They depend on factors like where you live, any previous jobs you’ve had and where you went to school.
Am I eligible?
Different grants will have different eligibility criteria, but most will want to know:
✓ Your financial situation (they tend to be means-tested)
✓ That being able to drive would really help the person you care for, eg. it would allow you to take them to medical appointments
How to apply: You can check what support is available for carers in your area and with your background on the Turn2Us website. Don't search by 'driving lessons', as results aren't filtered this way. Instead, input different criteria into the search boxes each time, to get a comprehensive list of potential grants. Even if a fund doesn't specify help towards lessons, you can always contact them directly to talk about options. Before you search, take a look at the guidance here.
Carers Trust Network Partners, like Carers' Centres and Crossroads schemes, can help get you the support you need as a carer. They may offer grants that can help you with things like learning to drive—and can signpost you to other relevant services too.
Am I eligible?
✓ You care for someone with a disability or chronic illness
How to apply: Find your local Carers Trust Network Partner here. If none of them operate locally to you, there are links further down the page detailing where you can look for help.
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If you're caring for a someone with a disability or chronic illness, you are entitled to a carers' assessment through your local social services. They look at the impact caring has on your life, and might offer you financial or other support.
Am I eligible?
✓ You're a carer
✓ You're able to show that driving is critical to your caring role (although other help may still be available if you can't demonstrate this)
How to apply: Look up the local authority that covers the area where the person you care for lives, then search for 'carers' assessment' on the council page that comes up. Check out this article to learn more about the process and prepare for your assessment.
Family Fund used to offer help towards the cost of driving lessons for carers, but unfortunately they have been unable to provide this support for several years now.
If you've spent time in care, then you shouldn't just be cut off when you leave. In fact, you might well be able to claim funding for at least some part of learning to drive, either through your local authority or though a charity.
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When you leave care, the council might offer you some help with learning to drive. The level of support depends on where you live: some councils will pay for lessons; others will help with the cost of a provisional licence.
Am I eligible?
Some local authorities specify certain requirements, such as that you've been in work, education or training for the last three months (or have a disability or illness preventing this). You should check the criteria for your area before applying. However, there is one requirement that they all have in common:
✓ You are care leaver
How to apply: Google “your council name (eg. Leeds council) care leavers driving lessons” and follow the instructions on the website.
This fund helps with all manner of things that you might need as a care leaver—including driving lessons for some people.
Am I eligible?
✓ You're aged 17-25
✓ You've been in care at any point in your life in England or Wales
✓ You have a provisional licence
✓ You've passed your theory test
✓ You live in a rural area, where public transport is poor, or you need to drive for a job or training you've already started
✓ You're a UK national or have 'settled status'
How to apply: Applications aren't always open, but you can get updates on the Clapstone Care Leavers' Trust website.
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It’s worth seeing what grants you can apply for, regardless of whether they will directly help towards the cost of lessons. If you can alleviate spending in other areas of your life, you may be able to save more towards learning to drive. Even if you aren’t eligible for financial help with your lessons, there are a few things you can do to help keep costs as low as possible:
✓ Have enough lessons Don’t be tempted to rush your test in an effort to make things cheaper. Chances are, you’ll end up failing your test and spending more overall.
✓ Block book a course It’s usually cheaper to book a driving course than to pay for individual lessons one by one. Just be sure to use a reputable driving instructor/school and, where possible, don't pay by bank transfer—it can prove difficult to get refunds further down the line.
✓ Commit to learning at a good pace Having consistent lessons really helps you along the faster route to driving.
We know how difficult it can be stumping up the money to pay for lessons all in one go. With that in mind, we’ve partnered with Payl8r, which offers you the chance to pay for your driving course over a longer period of time, in monthly instalments. In order to be eligible for this finance option, Payl8r will have to approve you by performing a credit check. If you pay with Payl8r, you will be charged interest (unless you can pay off the balance within 30 days). It's not the right option for everybody, but some people find that spreading out the costs like this helps them learn to drive when they need to, even if they can't afford to pay the entire cost in one.
Once you have passed your test, it is important to do your research when it comes to insurance. MoneySuperMarket gives you lots of clever ways to save a lot, by doing very little. Compare and save on over 40 products from over 55 of the biggest insurance providers in the country!
If you already hold a full driving licence, but need help adjusting to a Motability car with adaptations for your disability, then you might be able to apply for ‘familiarisation lessons’. If you’re eligible, the scheme can pay for dual controls to be fitted before your lessons. You’d be looking at around 5 hours of lessons—but Motability say they are willing to offer you more if you need them.
Occasionally councils and charitable organisations launch schemes aimed at giving free driving lessons to people who are unemployed or on a low income. This varies from region to region, so it's worth looking using a search engine to find the most up-to-date information that's relevant for you. In addition to this, make sure you know what benefits you're entitled to, and have a look at any grants for which you can apply. Although they may not cover the costs of driving lessons specifically, they can help to ease your other financial burdens.
When you're looking around for driving lessons, always check out a school or driving agency's social media pages for any active competitions and offers. Some companies may offer discounts to students or blue light workers, so it's worth asking what's available. On the other hand, be wary of driving schools that offer 'guaranteed passes'. Nobody can really guarantee that you will pass first time, and the company is likely to be recouping that money from you elsewhere.