The Hidden Victims Of The Cost Of Living Crisis
The Cost Of Living crisis in the United Kingdom continues to be an ever-prevalent problem, with the price of basic amenities such as food and energy continuing to rise at a rate much faster than the average wages of UK workers. However, a group often left out of discussion of the effects of this crisis are the disabled.
How Is This Crisis Affecting Disabled People?
According to Scope, a UK charity advocating for equality for disabled people, the average extra monthly costs for those living with disabilities is £583 a month. With the continuing rise of energy costs, it is becoming increasingly difficult for those living with disabilities to operate specialist equipment needed for daily living, such as breathing apparatus, hoists and other adaptive living equipment.
The cost of living crisis has also caused issues in the care sector, both with those receiving care, and those providing it. Increasingly rocketing fuel prices means that many carers simply cannot afford to fill their car’s fuel tanks on current wages – As a result, many carers are having to resign. According to Care Management Matters, the current vacancy rate within the care sector is at 13.5%, the highest rate recorded as of June 1, 2022. As a result, this means in-home support is increasingly harder to acquire – And more expensive, as UK Care Guide estimates the cost of in-home care now ranges between £15 to £30 an hour.
This is not aided by the fact that Disability benefits, such as Personal Independence Payment, are not rising at a rate comparable to the cost of everyday living. The next Government-scheduled review of these benefits is in April 2023, whilst the rising costs of living continue to be at the forefront of economic discussion.
Money-saving Tips For The Disabled
There are ways for disabled people, or those who care for them, to cope with their higher costs of living, which in turn may help them during this crisis. Here are a few tips, according to MoneySavingExpert.com:
- Apply for grants through your local council for specialist equipment. Many councils in England and Wales offer a Disabled Facilities grant, up to £36,000, to help disabled people and their families adapt their homes for their unique living situation. Coverage does vary from council to council, however.
- Apply for the Warm Home Scheme, which requires large energy providers to help vulnerable customers with their energy bills between the months of September to March. Disabled people who are on certain benefits may be eligible for the scheme. This will be especially important as we head into winter, with many people worrying if they’ll be able to heat their homes.
- Save on transport by travelling by bus if possible, cutting the cost of fuel. You can save even more money with a Disabled Person’s bus pass, which will either discount or waive bus fares for those who carry one. Apply through your local council in England. Similar schemes exist in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Similar to the bus pass scheme, you can also apply for a Disabled Person’s railcard, which, for £20 a year, means you are eligible for a 33% discount on most rail travel – As well as your companion if you travel with another adult.
- If you use a lot of water due to your disability, you can apply for the WaterSure scheme, which will cap a metered water supply to the average usage in your area. If you use less than this average, you will only have to pay for what you used.
Current responses to the Cost Of Living situation highlights how those living with Disabilities are often considered an afterthought – and the importance of advocacy and support of disabled people living in the UK. Whilst there are some schemes that could help, as listed above, more decisive Government action is needed to ensure the protection of some of the most vulnerable members of our society during these unprecedented times.