Calls for action to tackle ‘astronomical’ living costs for disabled people

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The Government is being urged to take urgent action to tackle “astronomical” living costs facing people with disabilities as new research is released today.

A report by the charity Scope reveals that, on average, families with disabled children face extra costs of £581 a month, even after welfare payments are taken into account.

The need to fork out more on essentials likes heating, therapies, toys and equipment means the extra monthly spend is more than £1,000 for some families.

Disabled adults face extra costs of £583 per month as they face lower living standards than non-disabled people, Scope’s research found.

And the financial burden of disability is particularly serious for adults in Yorkshire, with extra costs averaging £652 per month.

Scope and other charities have called for reforms of the benefits system and a new Early Intervention and Family Resilience Fund to pay for support for families.

Scope chief executive Mark Hodgkinson said: “Our new research lifts the lid on just how squeezed disabled people’s living standards are in 2019.

“The pressure of trying to meet these extra costs holds disabled people back from participating fully in society, affecting their ability to move into work, build savings and plan for the future.”

The charity’s Disability Price Tag report said disabled people are left with less money in their pocket, even if they have the same income as non-disabled people.

Extra costs mean £100 for a non-disabled person is equivalent to £68 for a disabled person.

A quarter of families with disabled children struggle buy new clothes and 40 per cent cannot afford to replace old furniture.

The report said: “Extra costs are caused by inequality, not by disability itself. Nonetheless, disabled people are likely to have a lower standard of living as a result of trying to meet these costs.

“Research shows us that disabled people on average have fewer savings and assets than non-disabled people, and are more likely to live in households with high levels of unsecured debt.”

Scope said 39 per cent of households in England living in fuel poverty include a disabled person.

The report said: “Disabled people with limited mobility, for example, might have to use more heating to keep warm, whilst people using assistive technology or electrical equipment such as powered wheelchairs will use additional electricity to charge these items.”

Disabled people also struggle to find affordable insurance, with 26 per cent saying they have been charged more because of their condition.

The Department of Work and Pensions said help was already being provided for low-income families with disabled children.

A spokeswoman said: “We’re spending more than ever before on Disability Living Allowance for children, with the most disabled children receiving £100 more a month since 2010.

“Universal Credit targets support to those who need it most and includes extra support to low-income families with a disabled child.”

Scope has welcomed legislation to prevent taxi drivers from overcharging wheelchair users and businesses such as Asos and Marks and Spencer developing affordable specialist clothing.