Learning Disability Today
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Falling inflation does not mean the cost of living crisis is over for disabled people, say Mencap

Official figures show that UK inflation has fallen to the lowest level in almost three years, with prices rising at 2.3% in the year to April, down from 3.2% the month before.

Speaking at Downing Street, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said inflation is now “back to normal”, representing a “major milestone” for the UK economy.

“Whilst I know people are only just starting to feel the benefits and there is more work to do, I hope this gives people confidence that if we stick to the plan there are brighter days ahead,” he said.

However, the learning disability charity Mencap says “falling inflation does not mean that the cost-of-living crisis is over for the 1.5 million people with a learning disability”, and they have urged the government to provide more support for disabled households.

Inflation is falling but prices are still higher than they were

While Sunak says inflation is now ‘back to normal’, it is still slightly higher than the 2.1% experts predicted, and higher still than the Bank of England’s target of 2%.

The fall in inflation means that prices are rising at a slower rate compared to last year, with lower gas and electricity prices the main driver. In fact, energy prices were 27% lower in April compared to 12 months before, with gas prices alone down 38%.

But prices for all goods only decreased marginally by 0.8% compared to this time last year, including foods and household appliances, and the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt acknowledged that families will still be feeling “bruised” from the past two years.

In an interview with Sky News, Hunt said: “[Inflation] is very close to its target level now; it’s returned to much more normal levels … but I think families will still be feeling quite bruised after the last couple of years, because although the inflation rate has gone down, prices are still higher than they were.”

Disabled households still facing unmanageable costs

Disability charities are therefore concerned that, despite falling inflation, many disabled households will still be facing unmanageable costs. The disability charity Scope says benefits are not keeping up with the scale of the cost-of-living crisis, with research by the charity showing disabled families face extra costs of £975 a month on average.

The learning disability charity Mencap is now urging the government to provide more support for disabled families who are still feeling the effects of high inflation rates over the last few years.

Maddy Rose, Mencap’s Policy Specialist, said: “Falling inflation does not mean that the cost of living crisis is over for the 1.5 million people with a learning disability – the reality is far from it.

“At Mencap, we know that many disabled households continue to face high levels of hardship and debt, alongside increased energy and food costs. These are made worse by existing financial inequalities such as fewer employment opportunities, increased risk of financial exclusion, and inadequate benefit levels.

“To prevent divisions in living standards becoming further ingrained in our society, every political party needs to commit to providing a proper support plan for disabled households that recognises those extra costs.”

Scope has also called for a direct financial support scheme for disabled people and, at a minimum, for the government to increase disability benefits in line with inflation.

“We need support that’s targeted at disabled people who are at the sharp end of this extra costs emergency,” they said.

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