Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty, according to charity Scope, with 49% using credit cards or loans to pay for everyday items, including clothing and food, as they try to meet an extra £550 in living costs.
Its report, Priced out: ending the financial penalty of disability by 2020, reveals that disabled adults spend, on average, an extra £550 on costs associated with their disability with nearly a fifth paying over £800 and one in 10 more than £1,000 every month.
These typically stem from having to pay for items such as wheelchairs and stairlifts, buying more of everyday things like heating or taxis to work, and having to pay more for services like insurance and travel.
While disabled people might get some extra support to help cover these costs, Scope points out that they will only receive £360 from disability living allowance (DLA) which means they are left with a typical monthly shortfall of around £200.
Disabled people are twice as likely as able-bodied 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.
In the meantime, what can disabled people do to cut costs?
On Scope’s website, they have been sharing ideas on how they manage to minimise spending, with lots of practical tips.
Money saving tips by disabled people for disabled people
For example, say you need a Rollator – a walking aid with wheels. They cost around £265 new but on DisabledGear you can find them for £80.
• Borrow expensive equipment before you buy. A local school/college or day centre may be willing to lend it to you.
• Abilitynet (abilitynet.org.uk) gives free IT support including advice on how to apply for grants for specially adapted computer equipment, and a list of organisations to apply to. Its free helpline is on 0800 269 545.
Computers for the Disabled (cftd.co.uk/cftd.htm) supplies recycled PCs and new parts to the disabled and housebound.
• Filling in the disability living allowance (DLA) claim form can be a daunting task. But the step-by-step guide from Cerebra makes the job easier.
Call 0800 328 1159 or email email@example.com to request a printed copy or you can download it and print it out yourself.
• Some hotel groups such as Travelodge, Premier Inn and Jurys Inn allow three adults to share a family room which is ideal if you need to supervise the person you are caring for and great for cheap short breaks.
• Specialist shoes can be free. Check with your physio or orthopaedic surgeon.
• When visiting attractions, ask ahead if they offer any concessions for the disabled. Most offer discounts, special access, and carers-go-free tickets.
• Search for grants towards the cost of equipment, holidays, housing, and days out at Disability Grants (disability-grants.org).
• Sponge hair rollers are a fantastic and cheap way to help improve grip on tricky objects. Just slot the sponge hair roller through a fork, toothbrush etc.
• Some people may not be aware that incontinence aids such as pads and bed protection sheets are available free in some areas on the NHS.
To find out if you are eligible, ask your local district nurse (get details at your GP surgery) for an assessment.
• Large changing mats can be expensive. Try a waterproof picnic blanket, much cheaper and easy to keep clean.
• Baby wipes cost a small fortune and we get through thousands so we buy them in bulk using Amazon’s “subscribe and save” feature which offers a discount of up to 15% and free regular deliveries.
• I’ve been looking for a writing slope for ages but didn’t want to pay £40 plus. I finally found one in Ikea called BRÄDA for £2.50 that is meant for a laptop, but does the job!
• Since therapeutic chairs are so expensive, I made my toddler a little play station with a Bumbo seat bumbo.com and a tray with legs that is used for eating in bed. The tray has a table that can incline towards him to draw or do puzzles, and I use it flat for playing with blocks.