Life can be expensive, at the best of times.
As the prices of most necessities continue to rise, too often we can all feel overwhelmed when it comes to our own mounting expenses.
But for disabled people the cost of living can be far higher than most of us would imagine.
That’s why we’ve exposed the hidden financial reality of disabled people’s lives.
New research from Scope shows that after housing is taken in to consideration, half the money in disabled people’s pockets goes on disability-related costs alone.
Scope’s findings reveal that disabled people pay a financial penalty in life on everyday living costs – on average £570 per month, with one in five paying over £1000 extra per month. This is even accounting for the impact of Personal Independence Payment, the benefit designed to counteract these extra costs.
These extra costs mean that disabled people are left with less money in their pocket than non-disabled people. Shockingly, each pound a non-disabled person spends is equivalent to only 67p for a disabled person.
We know from talking to disabled people that these costs can range from £1,200 for a special reclining chair to £600 for a spare battery for an electric wheelchair. However, extra expenses can also include spending more money on clothes, which can be rubbed and worn down quickly by wheelchair use, or having to pay for taxis everywhere to avoid inaccessible public transport.
Marie has Osteogenesis Imperfecta and uses a specially adapted wheelchair. She told Scope that if she needs a new one she’ll have to find the £9,000 to cover it. Because she couldn’t afford to replace her current wheelchair when it broke recently, she had to wait five weeks for repairs. In that time she was limited as to where she could go, therefore unable to take her son to the playground or out on trips. Recently she and her husband also spent around £4,000 on a specially adapted kitchen, so Marie could use it too.
Cath, who is in her 40s and from Yorkshire, told Scope that she paid over £10,000 in a year on extra costs, including a staggering £7,600 for a wheelchair with powered wheels and £3,000 for a folding chair that can fit into a car.
At Scope we know that sometimes a disabled person’s condition means they have no choice but to use more of something, like heating. In other cases, they are simply charged over the odds for everyday items and services.
There needs to be a complete rethink on how we tackle this issue.
The Government needs to ensure disabled people have the right support to help meet extra costs, and that action is taken to drive down these costs. Likewise, businesses and regulators need to improve how markets work for disabled consumers and improve the services and goods they offer them.
Nobody should be paying over the odds for the basics in life, and being a disabled person shouldn’t result in the financial penalties we know so many already face.