Disabled people are being disproportionately hit by the cost of living crisis, earning 44% less than non-disabled people, according to new research by Resolution Foundation.
The report, Costly differences, which looked at data from more than 10,400 adults, reveals that two in five disabled people are unable to heat their homes this winter, and almost a third are cutting back on food expenditure.
While this is partly down to the low employment rate for disabled workers (54% compared to 82% of non-disabled people), in-work disabled people are also more likely to be on lower incomes.
Excluding disability benefits, the median income for disabled people was £19,397, while non-disabled people earn on average £27,766.
This large gap in disposable income means that disabled people are almost three times are likely to live in material deprivation than the rest of the population, and shows how their living standards have been stung by fast rising energy and food prices.
Large income gaps existed before the cost of living crisis began
While government cost of living support will go someway to help disabled people in the short-term, the Resolution Foundation say that more policy work is needed to close the huge income gaps that already existed even before the crisis began.
The learning disability charity Hft is similarly calling for further measures to cover the additional costs disabled people face, as well as more initiatives to help disabled people into employment.
Kirsty Matthews, CEO of Hft, said: “While the Government took action to mitigate [the income gap] with a cost of living package worth £15bn last year, we emphasised that the one-off payments would not provide sufficient financial support to cover the cost of living and the ‘disability price tag’ – the additional costs faced by disabled people for essential things like heating to manage their conditions and travelling in accessible taxis.
“Indeed, as not all people with a learning disability are eligible for the £650 cost of living payment given to those on income related benefits, some have been paid just £150 to offset price increases despite the huge income gap they face.”
Overcoming barriers to employment
For many, £150 will not cover even one month’s worth of utility bills. The charity is therefore urging the government to implement further financial support, especially for those with learning disabilities, the vast majority of whom are unemployed.
“It is vital to emphasise that the current employment rate for adults with a learning disability sits at just 5%. We are working with employment initiatives like Project Search to support both adults with learning disabilities and employers in overcoming barriers to employment.
“It is vital the Government acts urgently to implement further financial support for disabled people – including those with a learning disability – to ensure they can weather the cost of living storm this winter, and into the future,” Ms Matthews said.