Charity announces emergency financial support for disabled households, as four out of five families say the Government is not doing enough on the cost-of-living crisis  

  • A thousand families living with a loved one with complex disabilities will receive a £500 grant from the national disability charity Sense to support them during the cost-of-living crisis 
  • It’s the first time the charity has provided financial support on this scale, reflecting what Sense is calling as difficult a time for disabled households as they have faced since it was founded six decades ago 
  • New research by Sense reveals that higher costs for food and energy this year have put nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of families with a disabled child or adult into debt, with more than half (55 per cent) admitting to borrowing money from friends and family. 
  • Two in five (40 per cent) say they will go without food to save money, with more than three quarters (77 per cent) saying the pressure is affecting their mental health.   
  • More than 30 thousand people have signed a Sense petition calling for long-term and targeted financial support for disabled people including an urgent increase to benefits to a level that disabled households can survive on.  
Three people in a room. A man is standing holding feeding equipment for a young man who is sitting down. A woman sits on the side with her phone in hand.
The Butler family, from Redditch, who will receive the fund. They want the Government to do more to support disabled people.

(25 August 2022 – London, UK): Four out of five (83 per cent) families caring for a disabled loved one believe the Government is not doing enough to support them during the current cost-of-living crisis, according to new research* by the disability charity Sense. It comes as the charity announce a new emergency fund for children or adults with complex disabilities living with their families. 

A thousand families from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive a £500 grant from Sense ahead of the autumn. It’s the first time in the charity’s history, which spans more than six decades, that they’ve provided emergency financial support on this scale. 

Sense polled more than one thousand families with a disabled child or adult in their household across the UK, and nearly three quarters (72 per cent) said they have been pushed into debt this year due to increases to food and energy prices. More than half (55 per cent) admitted to borrowing money from friends and family to pay bills, with two in five (40 per cent) saying they will go without food to save money. More than three quarters (77 per cent) said the financial pressure is affecting their mental health. 

Eight in ten (87 per cent) households want to see more targeted financial support for disabled people. 

Sense is offering the financial assistance to families through its services. In addition, the scheme is extended to children and adults with complex disabilities supported by other specialist charities, such as Rett UK, Batten Disease Association and Zellweger. Sense says demand for the service has been huge. 

Richard Kramer, Sense Chief Executive, said: 

“Disabled people and their families have told us that they are frustrated by the lack of urgency from Government in tackling the cost-of-living crisis.   

Sense felt that we needed to step in and set up the fund to help people who are struggling now to pay for their essentials. 

We have already seen a huge demand for support, which reflects the massive cost-of-living challenges facing the individuals we support and their families.   

We know it will make a huge difference to those who receive it, but it’s not a long-term solution, and there are many more disabled people and families across the country that need support at this time. 

Our research illustrates the desperate everyday reality of disabled households across the UK, who are in debt and facing impossible decisions such as whether to eat or heat their homes.  

Everyone is affected by rising prices, but disabled households are one of the hardest hit because of their circumstances. Many are in poverty, less likely to be in full-time work and face higher costs for energy for essential equipment and the additional costs of disability. 

The next Prime Minister must recognise the impact this crisis is having on disabled households and provide long-term financial support.” 

Sense have partnered with national charity Turn2us to administrate the grant applications. Turn2us helps people in financial hardship gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services. 

Jules Tompkins, Senior Programme Manager at national poverty charity Turn2us, added: 

“For families living with a loved-one with complex disabilities, receiving a charitable grant can be a lifeline in helping them cope financially. Every day we hear from disabled people about the impact grants can have and we are pleased to be working with Sense to ensure disabled people and their families receive vital financial support as the cost of living continues to spiral. We know disabled people will be amongst those hardest hit by soaring costs. Therefore, it is crucial that in the longer-term, reforms are made to both our economy and social security system to stop the growing inequalities in our society, and to ensure people to have enough money to live on.”   

Three people smiling at the camera. On the left is a woman, in the middle a young man, and on the right another man.

Case study

Keith Butler and his partner Helen live in Redditch, in Worcestershire, and are full-time carers for their 21-year-old son Geordie. Geordie has CHARGE syndrome, is deafblind and autistic.  

They have fixed income made up of Keith’s pension and Geordie’s Universal Credit.

Keith says that energy costs are hitting the family hard, and even though they have outstanding bills, will save the money from Sense, to help them with higher costs that will come in the winter. 

Keith Butler said: 

“Despite us trying to save and be careful, we don’t have a choice about the extra costs we face to support Geordie. 

One of our biggest expenses is electricity. Geordie is fed through an electric pump, which has to be on charge from lunch through to the evening, every single day. You can’t miss a day, otherwise he can’t eat. Also because of Geordie’s sight, we need to have lights on throughout the day. 

We put the same amount into an account each month for utility bills, but in September when the energy price cap rises, this will drain away.

The Sense support grant will help with the higher costs that will come with winter. It will help make sure we can keep the lights and heating on.” 

Keith wants to see the Government do more to support disabled people and families. 

Keith said: 

“We need long-term changes to the benefits system for disabled people.  

One-off payments are helpful. But the Government needs to take it seriously and put long-term support in place that gives disabled people an equal chance at life, as everyone else has.” 

Over 30 thousand people have signed a Sense petition calling for long-term financial support for disabled people and their families, including an increase to benefits and the reinstatement of the Warm Home Discount. For more information and to sign the petition visit  

Contact Sense’s media team

Email: [email protected]
Phone number: 0203 833 0611