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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

New report warns 'disability price tag' costing disabled people £570 a month

Written by Ella Pickover

Disabled people are unable to afford the same standard of living as non-disabled people, a charity has warned.

A new report from the disability charity Scope found that disabled people have "much less" to live on and are having to fork out an average of £570 a month related to their impairment or condition.

And after housing costs have been met, on average, almost half of disabled people's remaining income is spent on disability-related costs, Scope said.

"This leaves disabled people with much less money to live on," according to the authors of Scope's report.

They added that these "extra costs mean that disabled people's money doesn't go as far" - £100 for a non-disabled person is equivalent to just £67 for a disabled person, the charity calculated.

This is even accounting for the impact of Personal Independence Payment, the benefit designed to counteract these extra costs, Scope said.

These costs can include a powered wheelchair, adaptive clothing, greater consumption of energy or more costly insurance premiums.

For one in five disabled people, extra costs can add up to more than £1,000 a month.

The charity is calling on the Government to reform the assessment for Personal Independence Payment so that disabled people get the right level of support to help with extra costs.

Meanwhile it called on businesses to do more to develop goods and services targeted at disabled people that help to reduce extra costs.

"Life costs more if you are disabled," said Scope chief executive Mark Atkinson.

"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.

"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."

Sarah Newton, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, said: "Scope rightly highlights that people often face additional costs as a result of their disability, which is why we're spending more than ever before to support disabled people and those with health conditions.

"We introduced personal independence payments to replace the old system, and now 29% of people receive the highest rate of support, compared with 15% under disability living allowance.

"This government is committed to supporting struggling households and is working closely with a wide range of industries including retail, transport and financial services, to help encourage businesses to focus on the needs of disabled customers to ensure they don't miss out."

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