“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 TagPublished 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?
PerspectiveAs 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.