Being disabled can account for extra living costs connected with purchasing equipment, limited travel options or needing to keep the heating on for longer than other people do. Fortunately, funding and grants are available for eligible disabled people.
There’s no question that disability is more expensive than people realise. Add to that, the fact that many disabled people either cannot work or struggle to find suitable employment and it becomes clear that many will have problems making ends meet.
Disability charity, Scope, put together the Extra Costs Commission, an independent inquiry into the extra costs faced by disabled people and their families. Their final report was published in 2016 highlighting that being disabled can add hundreds of pounds to household outgoings. Indeed, another charity, Contact a Family, also conducted research that showed that a quarter of the 3, 500 parents who took part in their Counting the Costs survey said that every month they face £300 or more in extra costs relating to their child’s disability or health condition.
Look at your benefit entitlement
The first port of call is to establish what benefits you might be entitled to. The fact is that there are plenty of disabled people that don’t know about the full range of benefits and the like that they’re eligible for. The good news is that it costs nothing but a little time to make sure you’re not missing out on something you might have a perfect right to claim.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you are considering applying for further grants or funding from a charitable organisation, they will undoubtedly expect you to have fully equipped these options.
A number of organisations offer benefit calculators that are easy to find online or you could speak with somebody at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, for example, if it would help you to understand how it all works. A tip to keep in mind, particularly if searching for yourself online, is that where you live in the UK may determine what’s available to you.
Search benefits at: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Before we get too deep into the detail, let’s shuffle the elephant in the room out of sight. As already mentioned most charities will expect you to have explored your eligibility for state benefits, local authority support and other help you are legally entitled to before approaching them. If you’ve done that and you still require further support, you should feel free to apply for charitable support.
Arguably, benefits don’t go far enough to support people who through no fault of their own, find themselves struggling financially because, in part, of their disability.
Variety of support
If you didn’t already know that charitable grants and other support is available to you, there’s a good chance that you won’t realise that such funding is available to suit a variety of needs. Not only are there charitable organisations that will help you to fund large mobility equipment purchases but also other expenses such as replacement white goods and even holidays (and respite care). Revitalise is a well-known national charity that has been providing respite care in a holiday setting for disabled people and carers for over 50 years. They currently run three-holiday centres
in Chigwell in Essex, Southampton and Southport, providing nearly 5,000 breaks each year.
Similarly, the Family Holiday Association provides breaks for families struggling with issues, including disability. The charity was founded on the belief that holidays are a lifeline, not a luxury.
Charitable organisations are often quite specific about the people they help. For instance, as you might expect, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust angles its support entirely towards people with CF.
This is because they have a genuine understanding of the condition and when approached can often provide support that is valuable in different ways, such as local contacts to network with as well as advice based on real-life experience and expertise. Nevertheless, specialist organisations also realise that sometimes financial support is required, so long as it can be directly related to helping your condition. For example, lots of people require their medicine to be kept refrigerated and with this in mind, should your fridge look as if it’s about to pack-in, they may be able to support you in purchasing a new one, up to a certain value. (The reasoning being that your medicines help you to directly combat your issues.) Lots of specific organisations meet monthly or quarterly to review applications for annual grants. (You may need to provide a statement from a healthcare professional to support your application.)
Support for professionals
Disability can affect anyone and you’ll also find that bodies like trades unions or organisations formed to support ex-colleagues can also help. It may take a bit of homework to find these benevolent funds or you could contact national charity, Turn2us. They help people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face-to-face through partner organisations. Their knowledge is encyclopaedic!
Naturally, charitable support is angled to those people that need it most. You should therefore expect to provide evidence outlining your financial position – especially if you are claiming funding based on low income. Items such as photocopies of utility bills and recent bank statements are usually required. The forms can be quite daunting and can take a while to fill in. The organisation you’re applying to might be able to provide help for you to fill in the forms correctly. It’s a good idea to keep financial evidence in order, ready for these processes.
It’s definitely worth contacting experts to establish which organisations maybe able to help you. Healthcare professionals can also be plugged into what’s available to you and are worth chatting with, indeed, many doctor’s surgeries and hospitals have staff that specialise in arranging support.
Disability can lead to other financial issues such as debt or fuel poverty, etc. For broader financial advice, visit the Money Advice Service website: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk