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Life costs more if you’re disabled – the “disability price tag” must be addressed - Scope


3 min read

Disabled people face substantial extra costs for essential goods and services, new research from Scope finds.

Whether expensive items of equipment, higher fuel bills, or costly insurance premiums, disabled people face additional costs across many areas of their lives.

New research by Scope reveals that disabled people on average face extra costs of £570 a month related to their impairment or condition. For one in five these extra costs amount to over £1,000 a month. And this is on top of the welfare payments designed to meet these costs.

Extra costs represent an unfair financial burden on disabled people’s lives. The extra costs of disability mean disabled people are less able to build financial resilience, increasing their likelihood of falling into poverty. They make it harder for disabled people to get a job, access education and training opportunities, pay into savings and pensions, and participate fully in society.

Four years ago, we published our first large piece of research into the extra costs faced by disabled people. Since then, we’ve seen some positive steps taken by government, businesses and market regulators. And we’ve heard the Prime Minister pledge to tackle the “burning injustice” of disability discrimination.

However, disabled people are still forced to pay more to live their lives. People like Marie who has osteogenesis imperfecta. She uses a specially adapted wheelchair which needs replacing, but this would cost her £9,000. Marie and her husband also recently spent around £4000 on a specially adapted kitchen.

If the Prime Minister is serious about “building a country that works for everyone”, the Government must urgently step up and set out a viable plan for tackling the disability price tag, working with businesses and regulators to deliver the reforms needed.

Action is needed on two fronts. Firstly, we need to ensure disabled people get the right support to help meet extra costs. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) supports disabled people with some of the additional costs of disability. However, all too often disabled people tell us that the PIP assessment isn’t working and they aren’t getting the support they need. A complete overhaul the PIP assessment process is needed to ensure it accurately captures the type and level of extra costs disabled people face.

Secondly, the drivers of these extra costs must be addressed. Disabled people are often underserved by businesses across several markets, leading to increased costs for vital goods and services like energy and insurance. Businesses and regulators need to do more to understand and address the challenges faced by disabled consumers to help drive down extra costs.

However, there is also an important role for Government to play in putting a place a cross-departmental plan to bring down the extra costs disabled people face across different markets. The promised consumer green paper is an opportunity to make this happen. 

Scope will be reporting annually on disabled people’s extra costs to assess any changes over time. The disability price tag is an unfair financial penalty on disabled people that none of us can afford to ignore.

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