Tag Archives: Priced Out

A new approach to tackling the extra costs faced by disabled people

Life costs more if you are disabled. From buying specialist equipment to facing higher everyday expenses, disabled people face extra costs in almost all areas of life.

Last week the Public Accounts Committee reported that the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP), introduced from April 2013 to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA), is facing major problems. As a result many disabled people are experiencing unacceptable delays in receiving these crucial extra costs payments.

From having to buy assistive technology, spending more on heating, buying more expensive transport, to paying more for insurance – as a disabled person you will face around £550 in disability related expenditure. PIP is intended to help cover the extra costs that disabled people face.

Delays in access to the fundamental support provided by government to offset these costs puts disabled people more at risk of financial difficulty. This is especially worrying since disabled people are three times more likely than non disabled people to turn to doorstep loans.

Later today I am speaking at an IPPR North event – ‘Cost of Living Crisis: are disabled people being forgotten?’ – where I will be highlighting the importance of both protecting extra costs payments and tackling the root causes of the extra costs that disabled people face.

Protecting extra costs payments

In the Priced Out report Scope calls for crucial extra costs payments to be protected by a triple lock guarantee, and from the overall cap on social security spending. We set out principles for an improved PIP assessment that ensures that disabled people who need support get it when it is needed.

When we talk about living standards in the UK we often think of growth, wages and prices. The most recent Labour Market Statistics showed that the cost-of-living crisis may be easing – average prices did not exceed average wages for the first time since 2010. But this will not be the case for disabled people who face lower incomes, higher costs and diminishing or severely delayed support. The issue of extra costs is one that predates the recession for disabled people, and without the right support to offset these costs, a recovering economy will not improve disabled people’s living standards.

But as well as making sure the support is there, where extra costs can be driven down, they should be. Some things can be very expensive for disabled people, and we want to find out why.

Commission on Extra Costs

Huge progress has been made in opening up opportunities for disabled people over recent years. Advances in technology have brought big improvements in independence and participation but all too often these come at a high, sometimes prohibitively high, cost. The inaccessibility of infrastructure and gaps in public service provision can also cause considerable extra costs for disabled people.

Political parties and the commercial sector have begun to recognise disabled people’s collective spending power but Scope, BT and the RCA’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Inclusive Design found that there are still gaps in the market between mainstream and disability-specific technology which – if tapped – have real potential to drive down disabled people’s costs and raise living standards.

This year, Scope, supported by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, will be launching a major Commission into the Extra Costs faced by disabled people. Over the course of a year, an independent panel of experts will consider the ways in which the extra costs faced by disabled people and families with disabled children in England and Wales can be driven down by both business and government.

We will be asking disabled people for their experiences of extra costs, and looking for organisations and individuals to submit formal evidence to the Commission. We also want to work with experts and practitioners across all sectors to find innovative solutions that drive down extra costs.

If you would like to get involved in the Commission or want to know more about it, please get in touch with us by emailing commission@scope.org.uk

Being in control of your own money

For most of us, it goes without saying that we control our own money. We choose when to spend and save, where to keep it and how to manage it.  For many people with a learning disability however this isn’t the case.

Meike Beckford is a Financial Advocate with Dosh, a not for profit company that specialises in supporting people with a learning disability to manage their money. Here she explains more about their recent investigation into banks and banking.

The importance of support

We all need help and support to manage our money, whether it’s a suitable bank account and regular bank statements, or guidance and information about pensions on retirement.

This support is even more important for people with a learning disability and many other financially excluded people. The right information and support enables many more people to manage their own money well, avoiding financial hardship and using their money to have a more fulfilling life.

This support could involve:

  • accessible, easy-to-understand information on money topics
  • financial education
  • maths and numeracy lessons
  • budgeting tools
  • benefits support
  • suitable and adaptable banking products and services
  • financial advice
  • debt management and support

The important thing is that the support is personalised. Not too much so that the person loses their independence and control, but enough so that they can manage their money well and use it in the way they want.

Dosh believes that everyone should have as much control and independence over their money as possible. We work hard to achieve this in our daily support for people, as well as through extra projects to tackle specific problems.

Problems with banking

We recently became aware of problems people have when accessing banking. Our financial advocates reported problems opening accounts, assessing mental capacity and giving proof of identity.. We decided to investigate the problem further and talked to many partner organisations, like Scope, as well as members of the banking sector to see what we could do to make things better.

Our report showed how damaging poor support can be – a lack of accessible information for example can leave someone unable to understand banking or open an account. This leaves them excluded from managing their finances and ultimately, less in control of their money. Without a bank account, people will struggle to receive benefit payments, make savings on bills through direct debits or put money away for the future.

We wanted to improve the situation and empower people to get the support they need, so we recently released the making money easier guide. This guide follows the report and helps people understand how banks should be supporting them, including what the law says they should be doing.

Supporting people to manage their money better

One of our financial advocates started supporting a gentleman in 2012 who was not receiving all of the benefits he was eligible for and as a result he was struggling to pay his bills or live a fulfilling life.

With personalised support, the gentleman now receives all of the benefits and premiums he is eligible for and also has support to make cost savings such as switching to direct debits to pay his bills.

Thanks to this support, he now lives a much better life. He has taken control of his money, paying all his bills and still having some money left for the things he enjoys – he is even planning a holiday to America in the future, as long as he saves enough money first!

Lack of the right, personalised support with money leaves many people financially disadvantaged and excluded. It increases the risk of financial abuse, mismanagement and debt and stops people making choices about their lives. It is essential that disabled people get the right support and advice to be in control of their money. After all, without money, what could we actually do.

More information about Dosh

The second in our series of reports in to disabled people’s living standards is – Priced Out: ending the financial penalty of disability by 2020. The report brings together new research and analysis to investigate the extra costs disabled people face and how to tackle them.