16 March 2016
Disability charity Scope says that its national helpline has received a high number of calls from disabled people who are concerned about changes to disability benefits.
Chief executive Mark Atkinson says following Government announcements in the past week, disabled people are anxiously awaiting today's Budget.
Mark Atkinson, chief executive of disability charity Scope:
“In the past week, the Government has confirmed cutting disability unemployment benefits and announced changes that will make it harder for some disabled people to qualify for the Personal Independence Payment.
At the same time it has also announced that it is considering a longer-term review of disability benefits.
With the Chancellor stating he is looking to find further spending cuts, disabled people are anxiously awaiting today's Budget."
Previous research by the charity shows disabled people are struggling to make ends meet.
Half of disabled people say that they have struggled to pay the bills because of the extra costs of disability that they face.
One in ten having turned to a cash or pay day loan.
Disabled people are twice as likely as people to have unsecured debt totalling more than half of their household income, are three times more likely to use doorstep loans and have, on average, £108,000 less in savings and assets.
David Turner-Smith, 50 years old from Doncaster, says he would be in a precarious position without his Personal Independence Payment. David says:
“Up until 2009 I was working as a chartered accountant, but due to over 25 illnesses and conditions I can’t get far out of my bedroom and I am almost completely housebound.
“My costs continue to rise, and I struggle to afford the ongoing costs associated with my disability.
"There are hidden costs to disability everywhere in daily life, you don't have to look hard to find them.
“I’m constantly purchasing and replacing expensive products, and have to pay for upgrades and adaptations, maintenance and electricity.
“I’m a diabetic and have had to purchase blood glucose monitors, test strips and stabbing devices. Other conditions mean I am also regularly purchasing disposable gloves, aprons and disinfectant.
“Breathing equipment costs £700 and like my air flow mattress uses a lot of electricity. My bills are astronomical, with electricity costing over £200 per month and water £75 per month.
“Personal Independence Payment is vital and I’d be in a very precarious position without it, but I still struggle keep up with costs.”
Scope’s Helpline can be reached on 0808 800 3333.
Notes to the editor:
Spokespeople and case studies are available. Please contact Scope’s press team on 02076197200.
1. Polling of 1,004 disabled people by Opinium, carried out 6 January 2015
2. Disabled people and financial well-being– credit and debt, 2013