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Cost of living: Disabled households twice as likely to be struggling

A shopper with reduced items in her basket, in a Tesco supermarket in London. Picture date: Saturday September 3, 2022. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
29% of households where a disabled person is present were "seriously" struggling with their finance, compared to 13% of other households. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty. (Yui Mok - PA Images via Getty Images)

Over a million disabled households in the UK are said to be in "serious financial difficulty" amid the cost of living crisis, according to a new study.

Research from charitable trust abrdn Financial Fairness Trust found 29% of households where a disabled person is present were "seriously" struggling with their finance, compared to 13% of other households.

It also shows that almost half of disabled households (48%) have found it difficult to keep their home warm and comfortable at some point this year, compared to 30% of non-disabled households.

Additionally more than one in three households (34%) in serious difficulty have someone who is disabled living at home, despite disabled households accounting for less than one in five (18%) households overall.

All ages of disabled households were more likely to be experiencing serious difficulty, but those aged between 60 and 69 were four times more likely to be in serious financially difficulty: 21% compared to 5%.

Read more: Cost of living: Calls for universal free childcare as nursery fees soar

Abrdn Financial Fairness Trust CEO Mubin Haq, said: Millions of families are being hit by the cost of living crisis, but our analysis highlights the very severe impact on disabled households.

"On every measure, disabled families are more likely to face hardship. Of great concern are cutbacks these families are making to everyday essentials such as food and energy use.

"It is hard now to see what else these families can cut back on especially as energy bills are set to rise further and pressures will continue for some time."

The research also showed that disabled households (30%) are significantly more likely to be struggling to pay their bills compared to non disabled households (13%).

Read more: Cost of living: Four in 10 UK adults save less than £100 a month, study shows

The cost of living crisis has also had an impact on disabled households' diets, with 43% more likely to eat lower quality food, compared to 25% of non-disabled households.

Meanwhile, 31% noted changes in the number of meals they eat in comparison to 12% of non-disabled households.

Read more: UK retail sales fall as consumers reign in spending amid cost of living crunch

Professor Sharon Collard, chair in personal finance at the University of Bristol, added: "The research shows that disproportionate numbers of disabled people are finding it ever harder to make ends meet.

"Many face difficulties accessing well-paid jobs or sufficient financial support, and this is often compounded by the higher everyday costs that are necessary for disabled people to meet the same or equivalent living standards as non-disabled people.

"While the government has provided some support to tackle the rising cost of living for disabled people, it is unlikely to be sufficient and longer-term solutions are certainly needed."

”It is essential the new prime minister provides targeted help to this group and others who are particularly vulnerable to avoid more disabled families being pushed into serious financial difficulties.”

The report titled Facing Barriers, was commissioned by abrdn Financial Fairness Trust, and analysed by a team at University of Bristol.

It is part of a wider project which has been looking at the personal finances of households since the start of the pandemic.

The sample included around 6,000 people, including over 1,000 homes in which someone was living with a disability that limited their activities "a lot".

It comes as UK inflation soared to a 40-year high of 10.1% in July on the back of rising food, energy and fuel costs.

Watch: How to save money on a low income