Fifty disability charities have written to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, the two remaining candidates battling to become the next Prime Minister, asking them to prioritise people with disabilities in plans to tackle the cost of living crisis.
The letter, written by Richard Kramer, CEO of Sense, and signed by charities including Mencap, the Down's Syndrome Association and the National Autistic Society, states that over half of of disabled households are in debt, and nearly a third admit to skipping meals to save money.
The charities say that the cost of living crisis has disproportionately affected disabled households and existing plans have fallen short of providing real, long-term solutions.
Disabled people are less likely to be in full-time work and face additional costs for essentials
The full letter reads:
"Dear Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss,
"Congratulations on reaching the final stage of the Conservative leadership contest.
"As the CEOs and leaders of 50 charities we are calling on you to put disabled children, adults and families and the unpaid carers who support them at the heart of any plan you make as leader to address the cost of living crisis.
"While everyone is impacted by the current economic situation, disabled households are often hardest hit because of their circumstance. Many are in poverty, less likely to be in full-time work and face additional costs for essentials like specialist equipment, heating, insurance and therapies. Research has found that over half of disabled households are in debt, and nearly a third admit to skipping meals to save money.
"Recent steps to support disabled children and adults have been welcome, but they are short term solutions for a long-term issue. With over 14 million disabled people living in the UK today this isn’t something that can be ignored. We hope that you will personally commit to tackling the inequalities that disabled children, adults and their families face.
"Richard Kramer, CEO Sense"
The charities are now awaiting a response from the candidates
The charities are now awaiting a response from the candidates, and hope that whoever wins the leadership race will implement Sense's recommendations laid out in their latest campaign: Demand more support for disabled people in the cost of living crisis.
The charity is calling for:
- A benefits system that meets disabled people's needs - including urgently increasing benefits in line with inflation, so families don’t get left behind.
- More financial support to cope with higher energy costs – including reinstating disabled people’s eligibility for the Warm Home Discount.
- Targeted support for disabled children and their families. The government must recognise and respond to the unique pressures faced by disabled people and their families.
While the one-off payments offered by the government will go someway to helping disabled families, Sense say they do not go far enough to address the long-term challenges that disabled people and their families face.
"Without more support, many disabled people could be driven to cut back on essentials like food, heating and life-saving equipment," the charity warns.