4th March 2015 at 5:05pm
Research by the disability charity Scope estimates that on average, disabled people spend £550 a month on costs directly associated with their disability.
These extra costs can include additional items such as mobility vehicles or equipment; higher spending on things such as energy to keep warm, taxis to get around and even certain types of insurance.
This adversely affects disabled people’s long-term financial stability. On average, disabled people have £108,000 fewer savings and assets than non-disabled people, whilst the gap in private pension wealth is £125,000. As long as the gap in the cost of living between disabled and non-disabled people exists, it is harder for disabled people to contribute to society equally.
The issue of extra costs for disabled people predates the recession, and without the right support to offset these costs, a recovering economy will not improve disabled people’s living standards.
Support for those who need it
The Government introduced the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to help cover the extra costs. In the Priced Out report published last year, Scope calls for this crucial payment to be protected by a ‘triple lock’ guarantee (so that it rises by the higher of inflation, earnings or 2.5%), and to be removed from the overall cap on social security spending. Scope also set out principles for an improved PIP assessment that ensures that disabled people who need support get it.
But as well as making sure the support is there, where extra costs can be driven down, they should be.
The Extra Costs Commission has been set up to investigate the additional costs faced by disabled people and families with disabled children in England and Wales. Launched in July, this independent inquiry will identify solutions for driving down these costs. The Commission is interested in ways in which disabled people and their families can be empowered as consumers and what action can be taken to ensure that this group has access to the necessary information and advice to make informed purchasing decisions?
It is also worth recognising the fact that a lack of competition or innovation in markets can have a large impact on the extra costs faced by disabled people and their families. The challenge is how can businesses be encouraged to work with this group to create a more affordable supply of goods and services?
With the proportion of people in their 50s reporting long-term health problems or disability predicted to increase from 43% in 2004 to 58% in 2020, this is a consumer base that will be increasingly hard to ignore.
The Extra Costs Commission will publish its interim findings for consultation on 5 March 2015. The final report is due to be published in June 2015.
By Minesh Patel
Minesh works in Policy and Research at Scope, which is currently providing the secretariat to the Commission. Standard Life is proud to support Scope as one of our charity partners
Standard Life’s Sustainability Report was published in March
Find out more about Scope.
Disabled people and their families share some of the ways they cut costs on MoneySavingExpert.com
1 Brawn, E. (2014), Priced Out [http://www.scope.org.uk/Scope/media/Images/Publication%20Directory/Priced-out.pdf?ext=.pdf]
2 McKnight, A. (2014), Disabled people’s financial histories: uncovering the disability wealth penalty, CASE paper 181
4 Pillai R. et al (2007), Disability 2020: Opportunities for the full and equal citizenship of disabled people in Britain in 2020