Disabled people are being forced to skip meals and sit in cold homes in a climate of benefit and social care cuts, according to new research on behalf of the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity.
Almost a quarter of disabled adults aged 18-65 in the UK missed at least one meal in the last year, while a fifth said they were not able to keep their home warm. The Leonard Cheshire research into the human cost of cuts to services and financial support for disabled people paints a bleak picture of families struggling to cope. More than one in four (27%) working age disabled adults reported having less than £50 to spend each week after deducting income tax, council tax and housing costs.
The financial situation is compounded by a growing social care crisis, with more than half (55%) of disabled people of working age saying they did not receive the vital support they needed in 2017. This suggests deteriorating social care for disabled people, with comparable research released by the charity in 2016 finding 48% of respondents were without social care.
Leonard Cheshire said their latest research shows the impact has been “catastrophic” with essential heating, food or travel often becoming unaffordable.
Neil Heslop, the CEO of Leonard Cheshire, said: “Our research lays bare the appalling situation many disabled individuals and families find themselves in. Every day, thousands of people are teetering on the financial brink, unsupported and isolated..."
Previous studies of disabled people by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the charity Scope show a considerably higher rate of deprivation than in the general population; in 2017, less than 8% of non-disabled people were in food poverty while those without disabilities have to spend half as much on energy bills as people with health conditions.
A recent report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found disabled people had disproportionately borne the brunt of tax and welfare changes since 2010, with disabled families facing an annual income loss of up to £10,000.