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Disabled people hit hardest in the biggest cost-of-living crisis in a generation

New research from the disability equality charity Scope exposes the extent of the crushing cost of living squeeze on disabled people:

  • Disabled people more than twice as likely to have a cold house
  • Three times as likely to not have been able to afford food
  • 76 per cent of disabled people who have seen rising living costs have had to tighten their belts and cut household spending.

These new figures - from an Opinium survey of 1005 disabled adults, and 858 adults in England and Wales from non-disabled households – are being released by Scope in conjunction with an investigation by Channel 4 News. The charity’s research found:

  • Two thirds of disabled adults have seen their energy bills rise in the past 3 months
  • 1 in 3 who have seen rising living costs have spent less on visiting family and 1 in 5 feel lonely
  • Disabled adults have seen the biggest increase in household costs for their energy bills (67 per cent have seen an increase), food and non-alcoholic drinks (54 per cent have seen an increase) and petrol costs (48 per cent have seen an increase).
  • Disabled people more than twice as likely to be unable to heat their home (23 per cent of disabled people vs 10 per cent of non-disabled people) and three times as likely to not have been able to afford food (10 per cent disabled people vs 3 per cent of non-disabled people)
  • Among those whose living costs have increased over the past 3 months, half (48 per cent) reported such rising prices as having a worsening effect on their long-standing health condition, with a similar proportion (51 per cent) saying their mental health had worsened as a result of recent rising costs
  • Just over two fifths of disabled people (43%) said they need to use more energy to meet their needs

Despite the Government announcing a range of measures intended to protect from the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and increased energy price cap, many disabled households will have minimal benefit unless stricter and more targeted support is introduced.

James Taylor, Director of Strategy at disability equality charity Scope, said:

“We’ve exposed the brutal reality of the impact of the cost of living crisis on disabled people.

“The new energy price cap is only going to heap more pressure on disabled households who have already been cutting back for months.

“Spiralling living and energy costs are already hitting disabled people hardest [1]. Scope’s research shows that half of disabled people whose household bills have increased in the past three months have seen their health and mental health get worse [2].

“And our energy hotline and website have been inundated by disabled people facing impossible choices, with nowhere else to turn [3].

“The Government have announced a range of measures to try and take some pressure off. Yet these proposals do not go far enough, particularly for the millions of disabled households in poverty where targeted support through the benefits system would be a much better way to help disabled families who are having to make tough financial choices.”

For more information contact the Scope press office on 020 7619 7200 or email pressoffice@scope.org.uk (out of hours please call 07843 467948).

Notes to Editor

[1] Among the poorest fifth of households, disabled households allocate almost as twice of their expenditure in electricity, gas and fuels compared to those at the richest fifth households. Scope analysis of Office of National Statistics Living Costs and Food Survey 2019/20.

[2] Opinium Research Ltd polled 1,005 adults in England and Wales with a disability 858 adults in England and Wales from nondisabled households, between 14th-19th January 2022.

[3] January 2022 saw an increase of 115 per cent in people accessing energy advice on our website between December 2021 and January 2022.

Scope’s Disability Energy Service: We offer free energy and water advice to disabled people, helping them to manage their energy and water needs. The service is open to any disabled person or households where 1 or more disabled people live, and those households are in England or Wales. For anyone looking for help and support can find it on our website or email Disability.EnergySupport@Scope.org.uk / 0808 801 0828

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