Combatting loneliness and the cost-of-living crisis are top priorities for disabled people

  • National disability charity Sense has published its annual study on people with complex disabilities, revealing that loneliness remains a huge issue, with disabled people twice as likely to feel lonely compared to non-disabled people
  • But the top issue today is cost-of-living, with three in five (59 per cent) struggling to afford their energy bills compared to two in five (42 per cent) of the general public  

11 July 2023 – Loneliness remains one of the greatest issues facing disabled people, with more than half (53 per cent) of people with complex disabilities in the UK feeling lonely, compared to a quarter (25 per cent) of the general population. That’s according to new research by the national disability charity, Sense.

There are 1.6 million people with complex disabilities in the UK, defined as living with two or more disabilities which may require high levels of support. Sense heard from more than 1,200 people living with conditions such as deafblindness, as part of its research to better understand their experiences.

More than two thirds (69 per cent) of people with complex disabilities said they face difficulties accessing social activities, where they could meet new people, try new things and build social confidence. Inaccessible venues (29 per cent), transport (25 per cent) and toilets (21 per cent) were highlighted as significant barriers, but the greatest was deemed to be negative public attitudes towards disability (38 per cent).

Additional costs (30 per cent) are another huge barrier preventing disabled people from socialising, and this year, tackling the rising cost of living topped the list of priorities for people living with complex disabilities. 85 percent said they were worried about the rising costs of living, and almost two thirds (59 per cent) were finding it difficult to afford their energy bills, compared to 42 per cent of non-disabled people.

Sense is calling for long-term financial support for disabled people to help them cope with the cost-of-living crisis.

Richard Kramer, Chief Executive at Sense, said:

“Disabled people are under huge pressure with the rising cost of living, struggling to pay bills and worried about the future. We need the government to do more, recognising the higher everyday living costs disabled people face, and putting in place a long-term plan to support them.”

On the latest loneliness findings, Richard Kramer, said:

“We fear that the current cost of living pressures will further exacerbate social isolation and loneliness, already so high amongst disabled people.

Beyond the immediate cost of living crisis, we must prioritise policies that promote inclusivity and accessibility, and invest in accessible transportation, buildings and our local communities.

We must listen to disabled people who tell us negative attitudes are the biggest barrier they face and raise awareness about the benefits of a more inclusive society where disabled people can thrive and participate fully.”

Notes to editors


*Results gathered by combined online polling of 1,000 people with complex disabilities (conducted between 13 March-20 March 2023) and a survey of 234 people with complex disabilities promoted through Sense’s channels (conducted between 14 March-11 April 2023). All questions were asked in the polling and survey.

Contact Sense’s media team

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