Thursday, 6 February 2020

It's Expensive Being Disabled

Life is expensive, this will come as no surprise to anyone but what might surprise you is the fact that disabled people have, on average, extra costs of £583 a month (Scope). For 1 in 5 people those costs are closer to £1,000. This is on top of all the usual costs of life; bills, food, social expenses. Can you imagine someone suddenly asking you to find an extra £600 every month? Well, that's basically what disabled people are faced with.


In the UK we have a benefit called PIP (Personal Independence Payment) which is supposed to exist to cover these extra costs and don't get me wrong, without those payments I'd be in trouble, but it's a flawed system. Many come away from the rigorous assessments to find that they have been denied any support, or given not enough support. Our extra costs don't just disappear when this happens though. Accessible food still needs to be bought, the heating still needs to go on more often than other households, taxis still need to be paid for to get us from A to B. I consider myself very lucky that I still live at home and right now, I can cover all my extra costs but a future of uncertainty always lies ahead and I worry about the day when I don't have enough to cover things like my powerchair insurance. These extra costs stop me from doing things too. I recently went to the cinema with my Mum, she drove there but because I use a large powerchair I couldn't travel with her and the taxi home cost me £25. We considered going again but the cost of the taxi turns a fairly cheap evening out into an expensive one, so I decided against it.

Being forced to fundraise for and buy my own powerchair rather than benefiting from NHS help comes with a price tag too. I was lucky in that I was able to fundraise for my current powerchair, but before this I had been buying my own mobility aids such as a manual wheelchair and specialised crutches, totalling to about £300 altogether. My insurance for my current powerchair is nearly £150 a year and if it weren't for the fact that I have a close relationship with the company who make my chair then I'd also have to be covering any repairs or services that my powerchair needs. All of this quickly adds up.


There are also one off costs such as hotel stays for trips that others could perhaps do in a day. Last year I also looked into travelling up to Leeds via coach, the means of transport my friends were taking, but my powerchair turned out to be too big to fit and so I was forced to get the train which was 3 times the price. These are things that I often don't even think about on a daily basis, or realise that it's an extra disability related cost, because it's just so normal to me. I don't see hundreds of pounds missing on a daily basis but finding the money for things as and when they crop up is when I feel it most. Expensive black cab journeys, mobility assistance aids, premade food and food deliveries. It adds up slowly. Whenever I'm able to save a little bit of money away I find that it often just comes straight back out of my savings account when these costs pop up.

I've spoken to journalists about this issue before and each time they ask me the same question, how much are your extra costs? Each time I say, I don't know because I have never wanted to add it up. I have never wanted to know just how much more money I'm spending than my peers, simply because I'm disabled. It's not even something I'd given much thought to until this previous year because these extra costs are so normal to me, it's not until I compare my life to others that the differences become visible. It's true that money is not the source of happiness but, would it make my life easier as a disabled person? Absolutely, it would.
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7 comments

  1. Yes I rarely add up my costs as I don't want to know! lol I spent thousands on various pieces of equipment I imagine...as my indoor wheelchair alone cost £1119. Was lucky I had help to pay for it! Even things like needing smaller bin bags with draw string handles extra cost. Many costs my local council don't count as costs either as they aren't traditional disabled costs when they do finance assessments to see if you need to pay for care.

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    1. Ah what a nightmare, that sounds exactly like a ridiculous decision a council would make!

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  2. It's time we the disabled in Britten got to gether and sent the government a strong demand as we the disabled are over a million in Britten you only need a 100,000 to get it on the agenda in parliament and we could get the ball rolling

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    1. There are usually quite a few petitions floating about on these topics! Scope themselves have done a lot of work to lobby the government too.

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  3. I know what you mean .After suffering heart failure 2 years ago had to find money for 2 mobility scooters .One boot scooter and a large one when I am home to get about plus insurance on both as I am no longer allowed to drive .We had to pay for a newer car so my wife can get me to and from appointments etc as the old car was starting to cost . It pretty well drained our savings .I now relly on benefits and would be lost without them and not working our finances took a hell of a hit .To top it all at my medical last year they docked me 100 pound a month apparently I can go out on my own .I havnt been on my own since leaving hospital and have a defibrillator in my chest and a monitor by my bedside .Life is no longer normal but still have to pay bills etc .No one realises till it happens to them how hard it is .

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    1. I'm so sorry you've struggled so much, it's simply not fair.

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  4. I could not relate more to this! I am honestly so lucky that my family can support my disability otherwise I would not be able to cope the economical burden. I know it is not the solution but it certainly made my life much easier I just purchased a mobility scooter for a very fair price and it included 3 year warranty. I got the Elite model here is the link I hope it helps! https://www.tzora.co.uk/

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