Disabled people in the UK are being faced with extra costs of around £570 a month for all of the extra support and equipment that they require because their Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefits from the government do not cover necessary expenses.
Occupational therapists often help their patients to access this financial support, but new research from the charity Scope shows that PIP rarely goes far enough and people with disabilities are unfairly being left out of pocket as a result.
The charity's report found that everyday living expenses amount to an average of £570 more per month for disabled people compared to their able-bodied counterparts. For as many as one in five of the disabled population, these extra monthly costs come in at more than £1,000.
With extra costs such as wheelchairs and associated maintenance, paying higher rates for accessible hotel rooms and travel insurance, and having to shell out for taxis due to inaccessible public transport, this means that every £100 for a non-disabled person is equivalent to just £67 for each person living with a disability.
Mark Atkinson, chief executive of Scope, commented: "Life costs more if you're disabled. We need a complete rethink on how we tackle this issue and how government, businesses, markets and the public work and interact with disabled people."
Responding to the report's findings, minister for disabled people Sarah Newton stated that the government was "spending more than ever before to support disabled people and those with health conditions".
However, campaigners want more to be done and are calling for a complete reform to the PIP system to make it fairer and easier to manage for patients, their loved ones and those providing extra support to them, such as occupational therapists.
Currently, just 29 per cent of those eligible for PIP receive the highest rate of financial support available. While this is up from 15 per cent under the old Disability Living Allowance, it is still under one-third, which is relatively low.
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford
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