Disabled people in the UK struggle to afford basic necessities, report shows

A new report by the Resolution Foundation, an independent think-tank, has found that disabled people in the United Kingdom are being disproportionately affected by the country’s ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

The report, which was based on an analysis of official figures and a survey of around 8,000 working-age people, found that more than 40% of people with a disability can no longer afford to keep their homes warm, compared to just 23% of the non-disabled population.

Additionally, nearly one in three disabled people have had to reduce their spending on food, compared to fewer than one in five non-disabled people.

One of the main factors contributing to the financial struggles of disabled people is their relatively low income. The report found a 44% income gap between disabled and non-disabled people, with disabled adults earning a median income of £19,397 ($23,373) per year compared to £27,792 ($33,488) for non-disabled adults.

The income gap is partially due to the lower employment rate among disabled people, with 54% of disabled adults in work compared to 82% of non-disabled adults. However, the report notes that employment status only explains about a third of the income gap between working-age disabled and non-disabled people, with the remainder likely due to “the kinds of jobs disabled people work in – including their typical pay and the number of hours worked.”

The high cost of living in the UK is also disproportionately affecting disabled people, with the country’s inflation rate currently hovering at around 10%, the highest level since the 1980s.

The report found that disabled people are more likely to worry about the cost of essentials and to report that the economic crisis is having a negative impact on their health.

In response to the report, the UK government has offered disabled people a range of support measures, including a repeat of a £150 ($180) cost-of-living payment in 2023 and a commitment to raise disability benefits in line with inflation. The government has also provided £37 billion ($44.6 billion) in support for around 6 million people with disabilities or health conditions over the past year.

However, Charlie McCurdy, an economist at the Resolution Foundation, believes that more needs to be done to close the income gap between disabled and non-disabled people. “More policy work will be needed, not just through this crisis, but to make more progress on closing the huge income gaps that already existed between disabled people and the rest of the population,” McCurdy said.

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