One Third of Disabled People are Struggling Financially

Thu,14 September 2023
News Benefits Money
A new report into the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis on Disabled people reveals the depth of poverty being experienced.

New Research findings from the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) in partnership with the University of Bristol contain a forward from the Disability Poverty Campaign Group (DPCG) which is led by DR UK, Inclusion London, Inclusion Barnet and Disability Positive.

The research surveyed 815 people and was designed with the help of Disabled people, so that it reflected their views, experiences, and priorities for improving their financial wellbeing.

The report found that there is insufficient support available for Disabled people and calls for greater focus on the specific needs of Disabled people.

The major finding was that many Disabled people in the UK are struggling financially, with some even finding it difficult to afford food and other basics.

Other disturbing revelations were that three-in-ten (27%) of  Disabled households are in serious financial difficulty, compared to one-in-ten (11%) of non-disabled households. Nearly one-in-three (29%) Disabled people said that ‘it is a constant struggle’ to meet bills and credit commitments, with a third (33%) saying they were struggling just to pay for food or other necessary expenses.

Age, income, and type of impairment all helped explain the differences in Disabled people’s financial wellbeing. Working age Disabled adults reported significantly worse financial wellbeing than those of pensionable age on all financial wellbeing measures. Disabled people on the lowest incomes, those in receipt of benefits and those not undertaking any paid work had higher levels of financial difficulty.

Other findings suggested that not being able to purchase medical treatment or medication has become a worrying new trend. Nearly a third of Disabled people (32%) had avoided going to the dentist or receiving dental treatment because of the cost, while a quarter (25%) had cut down or stopped receiving medical services that they had been paying privately for – such as counselling or physiotherapy.

The report recommends urgent improvements to Disabled people’s living standards and ensuring equal rights to full inclusion and participation in UK society. The research suggests that four things need to be urgently actioned:

• Better access to employment for those who can work

• A benefits system that provides a proper safety net

• Targeted support to reduce the costs of disability and

• Better access to essential services and advice

Professor Sharon Collard, Chair in Personal Finance at the University of Bristol, said “There are examples of positive changes already happening on some of the issues we highlight in the report. But to make a real difference, major changes are required to ensure that all disabled people in the UK have a decent standard of living. Just as important is the need to change the public conversation about disability and disabled people in the UK – who make up nearly one-in-four (24%) of our total population - to challenge negative narratives and harmful stereotypes.”

Dan White policy and campaigns officer at Disability Rights UK and one of the leads at the DPCG said “There is a desperate need for better financial support for Disabled people. Nearly half of Disabled people surveyed here believe their financial situation is making their physical and mental health worse.”

“This report comes out just after the UN session in Geneva which highlighted the shocking treatment of Disabled people by the UK government.  Instead of positive action, we are now faced with a new Government consultation on hostile changes to the Work Capability Assessment, which could see Disabled people forced onto lower benefits, exposed to sanctions, or driven into unsuitable work.”

“This report is a call to action to Government that urgent measures are needed to provide additional financial support to Disabled people before another challenging winter.”   

The full report is available to read on the University of Bristol website.