Disabled people pay more at every turn

A new report by Scope reveals that disabled people pay a financial penalty on everyday living costs – on average £550 per month more, with one in ten paying over £1000 extra per month. 

Not only do disabled people have to buy specialist equipment, they are also charged a premium for everyday items. 
 
As a result, many disabled people are on average £108,000 worse off when it comes to pensions and savings, and twice as likely to have unsecured debt. 
 
The impact on disabled people’s living standards has been laid bare in the report Priced out: ending the financial penalty of disability by 2020. It shows that disabled people: 
 
Disabled people and families shared their experiences of where they pay extra on Facebook:
 
“Cutlery for my son costs a fortune, for one spoon, one knife, one fork and one teaspoon costs £31. And that was after shopping around for the cheapest set.” – Amanda 
 
“My son is disabled and I am constantly amazed at the prices I have to pay for items and equipment. One of the worst is a comfortable chair so he is not in his wheelchair constantly, a good supportive one costs anything from about £1500 and the one I have now is a lot more expensive. I am horrified by what some mobility equipment companies get away with charging.” – Sue
 
“Holiday insurance, extra washing, swimming costume cost over £45! Paying for sitters, using holiday to go to appointments.” – Linda
 
“Yes also pay more for cutlery, travel insurance, car seats, toys, taxis in London as tube inaccessible, holidays as can't take advantage of special offers, all disabled equipment like chairs, trike, bath.” – Alice
 
Scope’s report has uncovered that disabled people have to pay extra in three ways:   
  • Having to buy more of everyday things like heating, or taxis to work
  • Paying for specialist items, like a wheelchair or a hoist or other equipment 
  • Paying more for everyday products and services, like insurance, travel, clothes and cutlery. 
The charity says it is crucial that the Government protects payments that help disabled people meet those costs.
 
Over 20 years ago the government introduced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to help cover the extra costs of disability. 
 
DLA is being replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), and there is concern that large numbers of disabled people will miss out on the payment and that the test used will not accurately reflect where disabled people have to pay more. 
 
DLA and PIP are also included in the government’s cap on Annually Managed Expenditure (AME) which means the budget for these payments might be reduced even when the need for them remains the same.
Scope is calling on the government to protect the value of PIP by removing it from the overall cap on benefits and triple-locking it, just like pensions for older people
 
At the same time, Scope is launching a Commission in the summer to find ways to bring down drastically the premium disabled people pay in key areas including housing, transport, equipment and technology. 
 
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of  disability charity Scope, said: 
 
“Life costs more if you are disabled.
 
“Disabled people and their families already have to buy things – like specialist equipment – that most families don’t have to budget for.  
 
“Sometimes their condition means they have no choice to use more of something, like heating. 
 
“But this situation is being made worse, because disabled people and their families also pay more for the everyday.
 
“We’ve heard shocking stories - £31 for a knife, a fork and a spoon, double the price for a taxi - from disabled people all over the country about how much more they are paying. 
 
“Scope research shows all these costs add up to an extra £550 per month.
 
“Many disabled people are struggling to pay the bills. They are three times more likely to take out doorstep loans.
 
“This report is another important reminder to government that it is crucial it does all it can to fully protect PIP extra costs payments that disabled people receive.” Ends
 
Stories: 
 
Jean has multiple sclerosis and arthritis. When she went to buy a mobility scooter, she couldn’t afford to buy it outright and so bought it on hire purchase. Just doing this alone cost Jean an extra £2,000.
 
Amanda lives in Brighton and is the mum of 13 year old, Livvy ‘Special’ toys cost Amanda a fortune - a simple ‘chime’ toy costs £50. Even getting a taxi costs more.  In Brighton Amanda is charged for the time it takes her to get the wheelchair in and out of the car. A cab to take Amanda into town costs around £8 – but when she is with Livvy it shoots up to £14. 
 
For more information contact Warren Kirwan in the Scope press office on 020 7619 7702 or email warren.kirwan@scope.org.uk

Notes to the editor:

Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Until then, we’ll be here. We provide support, information and advice to more than a quarter of a million disabled people and their families every year. We raise awareness of the issues that matter. And with your support, we'll keep driving change across society until this country is great for everyone. For more information go to www.scope.org.uk
 
Priced out: ending the financial penalty of disability by 2020: brings together new research and analysis to give a fuller picture of where and why disabled pay more. It includes data gathered through a survey and in-depth interviews, as well as an investigation into the disability wealth penalty conducted by the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE). The report also includes new Scope analysis of original data compiled by the think tank Demos in its 2010 report - funded by Scope -  Counting the Cost which investigated how reducing costs could have a positive impact on tackling disability poverty.
 
We recommend a multi-faceted approach to tackling the problem of extra costs. The Government must protect the budget for extra costs payments by taking them out of the cap on Annually Managed Expenditure (AME). It must make sure those who need support to help meet extra costs get it. It must make sure these payments keep up with disabled people’s costs by placing a ‘triple lock’ on them like the Government have done on pensions, and tackle the root causes of extra costs by rebalancing markets and introducing cross-governmental accountability. This will ensure that there is fair, inclusive growth which does not leave disabled people behind.
 
The report forms part of a series of investigations in disabled people’s living standards - Better Living, Higher Standards: Improving the lives of disabled people by 2020.
 
The third report in the series, on employment, will be published on 28 April 2014.

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