How being disabled affects finances

Having a disability can affect pretty much every aspect of your life, and yes: this includes finances. How much, you may ask?

Well, according to Scope (disability equality charity), disabled people spend an extra £583 a month on average (see here).

Does this surprise you? It doesn’t surprise me in the least. I saw also saw the following facts:

  • On average, a disabled person’s extra costs are equivalent to almost half of their income (not including housing costs).
  • 1 in 5 disabled people face extra costs of more than £1,000 a month.
  • Disabled people’s money does not tend to go as far. On average, £100 for a non-disabled person is equivalent to just £68 for a disabled person.

Of course, this will vary considerably with the type of disability but you get the overall picture. Disabled people spend more on essential goods and services like: 

  • Heating and electricity – many people may need more heating to stay warm and others use extra electricity for any assistive technology.
  • Insurance – house insurance, health insurance (if you have it), holiday insurance, car insurance… all of these are more expensive with a disability.
  • Equipment – there are so many different options when it comes to equipment to help disabled people with daily life and some of them can carry a hefty price tag.
  • Therapies and medication – whilst in the UK, the NHS is a lifeline, medication costs are still rising each year and with waiting lists as long as they are, some people try and secure funding for private appointments (although this isn’t always possible). This doesn’t even account for the travel and parking for appointments as well which is expensive in itself!
  • Food – when it comes to buying food, there’s a lot to consider: if there are any dietary restrictions, this can make food shopping an unnerving experience as all the free-from foods are hugely expensive for the size (a free-from loaf of bread costs £1.80 for 535g whilst a ‘standard’ loaf is 55p for 800g – this is from Sainsbury’s website as of 2022). The possible inability to prepare food means that perceived ‘convenience’ comes at a price; for example, you can buy pre-cut vegetables which is much easier for some disabled people, but it’s also much more expensive compared to buying vegetables whole and unprepared. Finally, the energy expended to cook a meal can mean that some would rather not eat a meal and still have some energy later – even though food gives you energy! So having ready meals and/or takeaways will mean that someone will still be able to eat a meal but these cost a lot.

All of these considerations will make life more expensive for disabled people (as a whole). And with benefits having many barriers to accessing financial support, a lot of us do struggle – benefits are really difficult to get and keep. And with the rising costs of living here in the UK… it’s genuinely really worrying.

You can find all this information (as well as PDFs of the reports) on Scope’s website – it’s a really good source of information.

Disabled people deserve more support. We deserve equal pay and opportunities.

We shouldn’t have to choose between our health or our finances.

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