While specialist equipment can help to vastly raise the living standards of disabled people by helping them to achieve more independence, new research has argued that the significant cost of private services and items mean disabled people have less money in their pocket to enjoy.
Because of lower disposable income, disabled people are likely to have a lower standard of living, even when they earn the same, a new report from disability charity Scope argues.
The research shows that on average, a family with a disabled child would have to pay £581 a month to have the same standard of living as a family with a non-disabled child. For one in five families, these extra costs come to more than £1,000 a month.
A range of more goods and services drive up the cost of raising a disabled child, the report outlines. Play, for example, often costs more for disabled children. Specialist toys tend to be significantly more expensive than those sold to non-disabled children.
The cost of specialist equipment, that often needs to be replaced as the child grows, also means families’ pockets can take a significant hit. Products that are designed to improve independence and quality of life are often viewed as essential and are usually expensive.
The report argues that getting around also tends to cost more if you have a disabled child. The difficulty of finding accessible public transport means that parents often have to shell out for taxis and private-hire vehicles just so their child can get to school or have an active social life.
Amid the mounting costs, parents and carers can find it difficult to give their children the support they need to get the best start in life, Scope argues.
The charity says that the social security system will play an important part in helping disabled families to achieve financial equality.
The report said that Universal Credit has a “crucial role” to play in helping disabled people and their families to build financial resilience and meet the extra costs they face.
It said: “But the rollout of Universal Credit risks leaving some families with disabled children worse off. Under the current tax credits system, a parent or carer receives extra money if their child receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
“Currently, this is paid at one of two rates, depending on how much DLA the child receives. While Universal Credit includes also includes two rates of payments for families with a disabled child, the new lower rate is half the current lower rate.
“This will mean a significant drop in income for many families with disabled children.”
Scope is now calling for financial inequality for disabled people and their families to end.
It said: “The government should be doing everything it can to close that gap. But if the government does not act to ensure that families with disabled children continue to receive the same support after they have been moved to Universal Credit, the gap could get wider instead.”