In these economically challenging times, it can be hard to ﬁnd the money to keep doing the things you enjoy. Fortunately, there are thousands of discounts and concessions available for disabled people across the UK – if you know where to look.
By Louise Carey
Living with a disability can bring ﬁnancial challenges above and beyond those faced by able-bodied people. Travelling, eating out, going to the cinema – many everyday activities are harder, and more expensive, when you have additional requirements or need to pay for an accompanying carer. However, large numbers of businesses, services and attractions across the country now offer discounts to disabled people to help offset some of these difﬁculties. If you stay up-to-date with the concessions on offer, and the evidence you need to provide in order to claim them, you can save a tidy sum on travel, leisure activities, and days out. In this article, we’ve done the hard work for you by collecting some of our favourite deals and discounts on everything from train tickets to theme parks.
Travel and Transport
Concessionary rates for disabled travellers are common on trains, coaches and buses, and sometimes the savings involved can be substantial.
If you live in England and have a condition which affects your ability to get around, you can apply for a disabled person’s bus pass under the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme. This pass entitles you to free travel on buses between 9:30am and 11:00pm on weekdays, and at any time on weekends and bank holidays. In London, it’s known as the Freedom Pass, and also entitles you to free travel on the tube, tram, and selected train services. The Gov.uk website has more information, and a handy postcode ﬁnder which you can use to direct you to the right organisation to apply to in your area.
There’s no free pass available for rail travel, but National Rail does offer a Disabled Persons Railcard which entitles you and a companion to a third off standard and ﬁrst class rail fares throughout the UK. The card is cheaper than a standard network railcard, at just £20 for a year or £54 for three years, and if you’re a frequent traveller it could save you a lot of money.
Even if you don’t have a Disabled Persons Railcard, you could still beneﬁ t from discounts on some National Rail fares. Blind and visually impaired adults travelling with a carer, and adults using their own wheelchair to travel, are entitled to 34% off Anytime Singles, Returns, and Day Singles, and an impressive 50% off Anytime Day Returns, on both ﬁrst class and standard fares. You may need to ask at the ticket ofﬁce to obtain these discounts, however, as they are not always available at ticket machines.
If you’re a fan of foreign travel, Eurostar offers reduced wheelchair user fares for travellers who cannot walk 200 metres unaided and require their own wheelchair to travel. As an added bonus, all wheelchair spaces on Eurostar services are in the upgraded Premier sections of the train, but cost no more than the lowest priced standard class fare! For a trip from London to Paris, this would be £29 for a single ticket, or £58 for a return. If you require a carer to travel with you throughout your journey, they are also eligible for the reduced fare. Travellers with visual or hearing impairments travelling with a companion can also get a reduced rate for their companion, though they will need to pay the full fare themselves.
Outings, Trips and Attractions
Film lovers will probably want to get hold of a UK Cinema Exhibitors’ Association card. A CEA card entitles you to a free ticket for your carer when you visit the cinema together, making it cheaper for you to get out and see the ﬁlms you love. The card costs £6 for a year – you must be in receipt of a disability-related beneﬁt, such as the Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, to be eligible to apply for one.
The National Trust and English Heritage offer similar schemes, allowing carers to visit sites free of charge when they accompany a disabled visitor who pays the full admission or membership fee. You can ask to take advantage of this concession on the day when visiting a National Trust or English Heritage site, or save time when visiting National Trust properties by applying online for an ‘Access for All Admit One Card’ in advance.
If theme parks are your thing, then there are a number of discounts available, though these vary from park to park. Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventures both offer disabled guests one free ticket for a carer, and a second carer ticket at half price. To take advantage of this reduced price, you will need to provide documentation: a current, valid Blue Badge, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, or Personal Independence Payment award letter dated within the last six months, or a GP letter conﬁ rming the need for a full-time carer should all be accepted. Paultons Family Theme Park does not offer concessions for disabled guests, but does offer free entry to all guests in wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Families with disabled children can also beneﬁ t from reduced prices on many attractions. The Max Card entitles the families of lookedafter children and children with additional needs to free or discounted admission to a wide range of leisure activities and attractions, including outdoor and indoor play centres, bowling alleys and museums across the country. Not all families are eligible, but there is a helpful list of participating local authorities on the Max Card website, which you can contact to check your eligibility.
What are you waiting for?
With so many discounts and concessions to take advantage of, there’s never been a better time to book that treat or day trip. Concessions and discounts can be something of a well-kept secret, but if you know where to search, who to ask, and what evidence you need to bring with you on the day, you can save a lot of money- and do more of the things you enjoy.
– Apply for a CEA card at: www.ceacard.co.uk
– Check your eligibility for the Max Card at: www.mymaxcard.co.uk
– Check out more money saving tips and information on discounts on the Money Advice Service’s website: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
– Visit the Gov.uk website’s disability portal for more information on tax relief, ﬁnancial assistance and discounted rates for public services for disabled people: www.gov.uk/browse/disabilities
– The Citizen’s Advice Bureau also has lots of useful tips on ﬁnancial help available to disabled people: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
More Money-Saving Tips
Even if you prefer staying in, there are still many opportunities to save. For example, the Government offers VAT relief for disabled people and those with long-term illnesses on products designed or adapted to aid your disability, such as adjustable beds and stairlifts. Your supplier can advise you on whether or not you’re eligible, and how to apply. If you are blind or severely sight impaired, you are also entitled to 50% off the TV licence fee
It is always worth enquiring about concessions when booking tickets or buying passes for events and attractions, even if none are advertised. There are more discounts available for disabled people than you might think, and some are quite well hidden! Googling any place you’re planning to visit to see what discounted rates are on offer can also yield many promising results. If you do your research a little in advance, you can also take advantage of perks for early booking if they’re available