The Impact of the Cost of Living Crisis
The cost-of-living-crisis is a devastating, ongoing issue facing everyone in the UK. The cost-of-living crisis refers to the fact that the cost of many essential items such as food, gas and electricity and petrol are quickly increasing, whereas wages and benefits aren’t going up as quickly. This makes paying for essentials and non-essentials much more difficult.
- During October 2022 the annual rate of inflation reached 11.1%, a 41-year high (Gov UK)
- Food prices have risen by 19.1%, a 45-year high (Gov UK)
- Gas Prices have increased by 129% (Gov UK)
- Electricity prices have risen by 67% (Gov UK)
Unfortunately, households where one or more members have a learning disability or disability have been disproportionately impacted by this crisis.
Before the cost-of-living crisis, parents of disabled children were already worse of financially. It is difficult to balance the demands of caring for a person with a disability with full time work and statistics show on average, disabled people faced an extra cost of around £583 a month and 24% of families with a disabled child were spending more then £1000 a month (Scope 2022)
Unfortunately, due to the crisis prices have been rising across the board and this has pushed many families to their limit. The time that parents and carers need to spend supporting and caring for their disabled children means that many are unable to increase their income to meet spiralling costs. Not only do families have to increasingly pay for specialist items such as sensory toys and therapies but they also often must pay more for clothes and food due to extra wea and tear and specialist dietary requirements. One study showed that due to the cost of living crisis, household expenses have now increased by around £1,500 a month for families raising a disabled child
- 9/10 families raising disabled children are falling behind with bills.
- 4/5 families are in debt and debt levels are rising for the majority.
- 1 in 4 families raising disabled children report not having at least one vital white good such as a fridge, freezer or washing machine.
- 4 in 5 families raising disabled children cannot afford to replace worn out of broken furniture.
To try and combat these skyrocketing extra costs families raising disabled children are forced to cut back on both non-essential and essential items. 54% of parents have said they have gone without food or water themselves, 30% have gone without heating and more than half have gone without equipment and toys. In families facing the worst hardship, 36% have pawned their possessions and 32% have had to resort to borrowing money from family or friends.
“The rising cost of living is giving me more concerns than anything else. We already sacrifice everything for ourselves. Me and hubby don’t buy anything for ourselves or go anywhere. I already buy used clothes and sell on the children’s outgrown items to afford other things for them. There’s not much more to give.”- Parent (Cost of Caring report 2022)
“The cost of living is going up much faster than my income and I am not able to earn more as my son needs 24/7 round the clock care”- parent (Cost of Caring 2022)
There has not been enough support for these families.
And there have been detrimental knock-on effects.
- 83% of families say their disabled child’s health and well-being has declined.
- 68% of families say their disabled children’s mental health has declined.
- 74% of families say their disabled children’s behaviour has worsened.
- 46% of families say that their disabled child’s development has worsened.
Unfortunately, not enough is being done to combat this crisis. The United Nations along with the public have urged the UK government to do something about the current living costs, especially for families with disabled children where parents may be carrying financial burdens.
There needs to be a focus on ensuring more families can access respite, care and support, so parents and carers have the chance to improve their quality of life, personal development and ability to bring in additional income. Partners along with Government must address the underlying issues that leave families raising disabled children worse off.
Where to get help:
- Call Mencap’s specialist cost of living advisors on 0808 808 1111
- Visit Royal Mencap#s website for easy-read guides about saving energy, energy bills and energy price caps- https://www.mencap.org.uk/help-with-food-energy-and-money
- Contact us. Whilst we are not cost-of-living experts, our friendly family support team are always on hand to be a non-judgemental listening ear and point you in the right direction of any help, 0113 235 1331
- We do also offer a hardship scheme for our youth clubs and playscheme activities if you are struggling. Please speak to our activities coordinator about this by emailing email@example.com.
- Extra cost of living payments-The government has announced that they will make more cost-of-living payments to people who receive certain types of benefits in 2023 and 2024. People who receive certain types of means tested benefits will receive up to £900. This will be made in more than one payment. The first 2023/24 cost of living payment will be paid automatically between 25th April and 17th May. People who receive certain types of benefits to cover the extra cost of disability will receive £150 between 20 June and 4 July.
Can you offer your support?
Now more than ever, families if a child with a learning disability need your help! If you are in the fortunate position where you can help:
- £20 could pay for a family support session for a parent in need.
- £125 could pay for a child to attend one of our play schemes during the school holidays where they can develop confidence, try new skills and have fun
- £250 could pay for one of our weekly youth clubs for children with learning disabilities where they can make friends and try new activities.