This is why disabled people need more support in the cost of living crisis

New research from Sense shows that even before the cost of living crisis, nearly a quarter of people with complex disabilities were struggling to heat their homes. It’s time for the government to act.

Lin, a woman with short grey hair, making a cup of tea in her supported living home in Exeter.

Today, we’ve published new research into the financial situations of people with complex disabilities in the UK right now. 

Our findings show exactly why disabled people and their families need targeted support from the government during this cost of living crisis. 

Why do people with complex disabilities need more financial support?

Our research found that even before living costs began to rise in the UK:

  • Almost a quarter of people with complex disabilities were struggling to heat their homes.
  • Seven in ten people with complex disabilities had less than £1,500 in savings to fall back on. 
  • Disabled people were three times more likely to be behind on their bills or in debt than non-disabled people.
  • They were also three times more likely to be unable to afford to eat well.
  • Around half of disabled people were unemployed (53%), and four in five people with complex disabilities were unemployed (82%). 

That’s not to mention all the other costs that come with being disabled. Read more about why life costs more for disabled people.

With all this in mind, it’s no wonder that the rising cost of living is taking its toll on disabled people and their families. 

Costs are now spiralling, and disabled people have fewer places to turn. They’re less likely to be in work, and more likely to have lower incomes and smaller savings than non-disabled people.  

That’s why in August we made the unprecedented decision to offer emergency grants to disabled households. But it’s simply not right that disabled people, their families and charities are being left to plug the gaps in government support.

What we’re calling for from the government

The government has announced an energy price guarantee, freezing energy prices for all households until April 2023. This doesn’t go far enough to help the most vulnerable people in our society. 

Households are facing a 64% increase in energy bills. For people who are already scraping by, this could be devastating. 

This is what we urgently need to see from the government. 

A benefits system that meets disabled people’s needs

The government must commit to raising benefits in line with inflation. 

Disabled people are more likely to be receiving benefits than non-disabled people. This includes income-related benefits like Universal Credit, which one in seven (15%) disabled people receive.

We’re calling for the government to commit to increasing benefits, and to make sure that local authorities can provide emergency help for disabled people and their families.

Additional financial support to cope with higher energy costs

We’re backing calls for a “social tariff” in the energy market. 

This means that disabled people and other vulnerable groups of people in our society would pay a lower rate for their energy. 

Targeted support for disabled children and their families

Our research found that families of disabled children were more likely to be struggling to afford food. 

They’re also less likely to have savings compared to other families. Three in five (60%) households with disabled children have savings of less than £1,500.

The government must put specific support in place to help disabled children and their families stay afloat. 

We carried out this research because we urgently need the people in charge to understand the circumstances of disabled people and their families in the UK today.

Thousands are facing the prospect of being unable to keep warm this winter. The government has the power to do something about it, and they must act now. 

Demand more support for disabled people

During the cost of living crisis, we’re calling on the government for vital support for disabled people and their families. Will you join us?