Extra costs hit disabled people in all areas of life

The ‘disability price tag’ is a daily injustice that disabled people face in all areas of life 
  • On average, half of income goes on disability related costs
  • 20% of disabled people pay over £1,000 per month extra 
  • Scope calls for a ‘complete rethink’ on how we tackle the ‘disability price tag

New research by the charity Scope reveals that disabled people pay a financial penalty in life on everyday living costs – on average £570 per month, with one in five paying over £1,000 extra per month [1]. 
 

Extra costs mean that disabled people are left with less money in their pocket than non-disabled people. The charity’s analysis found that for every £100 a disabled person earns, their spending power is just £67. This is even accounting for the impact of Personal Independence Payment, the benefit designed to counteract these extra costs. 

After housing costs, disabled people spend, on average, half of their remaining income (49 per cent) on disability-related costs [2]. 

The charity has uncovered the hidden reality of these extra costs, including: 

  • A reclining chair that costs £1,200
  • £600 for a spare battery for an electric wheelchair
  • Hand grips for wheelchairs and walkers that cost five times (£25) a grip for a bike (£5). 
  • Knives with an angled blade that cost £15 each
  • Nearly £4,000 for accessible parking bays

Read what contributors to Scope’s online community have to say about extra costs, and what disabled people told the charity on Facebook. 

According to Scope, disabled people have to pay extra in three ways: 

  • Having to spend more on everyday things like heating or taxis
  • Paying for specialist items, like a wheelchair or a hoist or other equipment 
  • Paying over the odds for everyday products and services, like insurance and clothes 

Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at disability charity Scope, said: 

“Life costs more if you are disabled. 

“Disabled people often have to buy equipment that other people don’t. 

“Sometimes their condition means disabled people have no choice but to use more of something, like heating. In other cases, they are charged extortionate rates for things like insurance. 

“We’ve heard shocking stories - £15 for a knife, £600 for a wheelchair battery, and £1,200 for a reclining chair - from disabled people all over the country about how much more they are paying. 

“Scope research shows that on average all these costs add up to a ‘disability price tag’ of an extra £570 per month.

ldquo;We need a complete rethink on how we tackle this issue and how Government, businesses, markets and the public work and interact with disabled people.”

To combat extra costs Scope is calling for: 

  • Government to reform the assessment for Personal Independence Payment so that disabled people get the right level of support to help with extra costs
  • Regulators like Ofgem and the FCA to improve how markets function for disabled people to help tackle extra costs  
  • Businesses to develop goods and services targeted at disabled people that help to reduce extra costs
People willing to share their stories:

Marie is from Milton Keynes, in her 30s and has Osteogenesis imperfecta.

Marie and her husband both work, and she gets Disability Living Allowance (DLA), but it doesn’t cover the extra costs they face because of Marie’s impairment. She receives about £80 per week in DLA. An adapted kitchen alone cost the couple four or five thousand pounds. 

She has a complex powered wheelchair that she paid for herself. She needs a new one and it will cost her £9,000. The last time the suspension broke on her wheelchair she couldn’t go out anywhere. She had to hire a powerchair while she waited for hers to be fixed. This cost a couple of hundred pounds per week. 

Cath is in her 40s and from Yorkshire. She paid over £10,000 in one year in extra costs, including “an eye-watering £7,600 for a wheelchair with powered wheels”. That’s as well as £3,000 for a folding chair that can fit into a car. Using a wheelchair damages your clothes and she has to replace them often – including two coats and 20 pairs of gloves last year alone. She also paid to put a stair lift in at home; and has to have a cleaner to do the manual jobs she’s unable to do at home. 

Notes to the editor:

For more information contact Warren Kirwan in the Scope press office on 020 7619 7200 or email warren.kirwan@scope.org.uk.

References

[1] Calculation summary: The extra costs calculation compares the difference in the standard of living between disabled people and non-disabled people, which is based upon the ability to do things such as replace worn-out clothes, replace major electric goods that break or purchase household contents insurance. The research looks at the additional income required by disabled people to achieve the same standard of living as non-disabled people. Our assumption is that this additional income is instead diverted to goods and services disabled people require due to their impairment or condition, i.e. the extra costs they face. The data set used to do this comparison is the Family Resources Survey 2015/16. 

This measure looks at the difference in the standard of living experienced by disabled people and non-disabled people. 

[2] For the purposes of our analysis, income includes any money from welfare payments for extra costs – Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

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