The cost of living (with a disability)

A few weeks ago, in the middle of the night, I was thinking about my Personal Independence Payment (PIP).  In case you don’t know PIPis a disability related non means tested UK benefit. There are two types of pip which are split into levels depending on the nature of your disability ; independent living (standard and enhanced), mobility (standard and enhanced).  I get enhanced living and standard mobility which equates to about £400 a month.

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I was thinking mostly about what PIP means I can afford to pay for:

  • Taxis to get me door to door when I can’t use my wheelchair for whatever reason (such as attending my psychologist appointment in a non accessible building)
  • Wheelchair taxis when I need to get further or somewhere in the rain (because rain means I have to have wheelchair waterproofs and I can’t get them on and off by myself)
  • Extra heating costs because I spend a lot more time at home and get a lot colder than most people
  • Replacing the clothes and shoes I can’t wear because of changes to my splints
  • Splints, not easy to get on the NHS
  • Wheelchair, related maintenance, insurance and accessories such as a rain cover.  Not a small cost.  I had to pay for the entirety of my wheelchair which was £7000.
  • Pre prepared and specialist food because my carers don’t get much time to cook for me
  • Kindle books which are more expensive than charity shops or libraries (btw, a lot of libraries do e books now)
  • Mobile phone bill, being housebound means if I want to keep up with friends and not feel lonely I need to send more texts or make more calls than I might otherwise
  • Internet, because internet is a lifeline when you struggle to get out (this could easily be a blog post of its own) both socially and from a shopping, paying bills, banking perspective
  • Additional costs incurred in trying to get a computer set up I can use eg voice recognition software, special keyboard and mouse
  • My tablet because I can’t write
  • Plumber costs to do a super super simple job that most people would do themselves, £100
  • Painting my new flat, again, if I was healthy I would have done this myself, £1000
  • Getting online food delivered by a more expensive supermarket because the cheaper one won’t bring the food into my kitchen, at least £40 a go because that’s the minimum spend
  • Rise recliner chair because I spend so much time at home in my living room and I need to be sitting in something which is supportive and comfortable
  • Manual wheelchair, because the electric one isn’t always suitable £300
  • Crutches, because the NHS don’t do the type I need £100
  • Carer travel expenses which is more than the cost of petrol
  • And on it goes

And I get £400 a month to cover ‘additional costs’ of being disabled.  That would take 17 months to cover the cost of my wheelchair, minus accessories, maintenance and insurance.  Let alone all the rest of the things I need.

Scope back me up here:

Life costs more if you’re disabled. This has to change.

Disabled people and their families face many extra costs. From expensive equipment to services, many pay over the odds for essentials.

Life costs you £550 more on average a month if you’re disabled, but the support to cover these costs – Disability Living Allowance – is only £360 a month.

Their research identified five key areas which contribute to the extra cost of living with a disability:

  • energy;
  • clothing and bedding;
  • specialised disability equipment;
  • taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs);
  • insurance.

A few stats around the issues:

Over a third of disabled people spend additional money on clothing and bedding as a result of their impairment

There are at least 833,000 fuel poor households in England with a disabled person

1 in 3 disabled people spend money on specialised equipment

At least half a million disabled people have been turned down for insurance

And yet the government still think it’s appropriate to look to cut disability benefits…

The scope report goes on to suggest things that different groups of people need to do about this but I’d be grateful if you could share this post and make more people aware of the cost of living with a disability.  As I’ve mentioned on here before, I had always assumed that there was help for people when they needed wheelchairs, equipment etc and I’ve been horrified to discover just how little help there really is.

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