“Where is the interview? Oh, I have never visited this area before, how will I get there? I will need to take a taxi.”
I have played this type of scenario out so often that it has become like a ritual to me.
Fact: life costs more if you are disabled!
Down the years, I have become completely resigned to shelling out extra money for taxis and so on, seeing it as nothing more than another by-product of my visual impairment. Just one of life’s necessary evils if you will.
However, thanks to disability charity Scope, I recently had a light bulb moment and my attitude of weary acceptance to such unfair penalisation is now a thing of the past.
Paying the Disability Price Tag
Published earlier this year, the charity’s research truly opened my eyes to the desperate circumstances of many people forced to pay what Scope has termed “The Disability Price Tag”.
As a result of having to spend significantly more on essential goods and services, such as electricity, gas, assistive aids and therapies, disabled people are more likely to have a lower standard of living than their non-disabled counterparts.
Even in the case that their earnings are the same as non-disabled colleagues, a disabled person will often have less money in their pockets after paying bills because their income just does not stretch as far.
Many others are often forced to simply do without life’s essentials.
Shocked? I was, these findings hit me like the proverbial tonne of bricks.
Reading the facts, I experienced a feeling of complete embarrassment at my naivety.
The extra cost of my disability might have been just an annoying inconvenience to me, nothing to get too hung up on, but people are actually living in dire straits because of something they have no control over?
As if I need to, let me put things into greater perspective for you.
The only real way to get to grips with the scale of the issue is to speak the language we all understand, cold hard cash:
- On average, disabled people incur £583 in extra costs each month – for 1 in 5 this figure is in excess of £1,000
- Families with disabled children incur extra costs of £581 each month on average – for 24 % the extra costs exceed £1,000
- On average, the supplementary costs incurred by a disabled person are equivalent to almost half of their income
- On average, £100 for a non-disabled person equates to just £68 for a disabled person.
A change in mindset is required
I have no end of admiration for a charity like Scope for their tireless, and often thankless, campaigning for a lot of disabled people in the UK.
In an attempt to tackle the Disability Price Tag, they are working to promote a greater understanding of the social and economic factors that drive costs up for disabled people. They have put forward four strategies, aimed at reducing said costs, including calling on the government to reform disability benefits such as Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment, so that they more accurately reflect the level of support disabled people really need.
Scope’s work in my opinion, however, is just one part of the solution.
What we need is more light bulb moments like the one I experienced. A complete change in mindset for you, me and the other 13.8… million disabled people in the UK – Mathematics was never my strong point!
It is all too easy to get left behind today in the hubbub of the multimedia world we live in, so it is time to lay your cards on the table! Start asking the awkward questions and tell anyone who will listen: “No, I am not willing to just sit back and be penalised for a condition that I have no control over.”