Disabled Britons face ‘terrifying reality’ during cost of living crisis

Disability action group leader speaks at cladding protest

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Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is the main disability benefit offered by the DWP, offering a maximum of £156.90 per week. However, as the energy price cap alone will see bills rise by roughly £700 per household, the most vulnerable in society could find themselves in dire straits.

Over six million Britons claim PIP, each receiving varying amounts from the lowest rate of £24.45 to over £150 per week. 

It is meant to help those with long-term conditions or disabilities cover the additional living costs they incur. 

However, disability charity Scope estimates that simply just being disabled adds an extra £583 per month onto one’s living costs. 

Scope stated their concern as the cost of living worsens: “Some disabled people and their families are simply past the point of being able to cut back anymore and afford to get by. Some face the terrifying reality of not being able to afford the basics. Facing the stark choice daily of heating or eating.”

Disabled individuals are almost twice as likely to be unemployed according to the charity, minimising their potential income due to no fault of their own.

Additionally, while many receive benefits as their main form of income, Scope’s research showed that roughly seven out of 10 PIP applications are denied.

PIP is offered at four different weekly rates depending on what the claimant has difficulties with and the severity of their condition. 

The daily living aspect provides £61.85 per week on the lower rate and £92.40 on the higher rate for those who struggle to do certain tasks like eating, cleaning or socialising.

The mobility aspect helps claimants who struggle navigating or physically getting around, and Britons do not necessarily need a physical disability to claim it. 

This aspect offers £24.45 on the lower rate and £64.50 on the higher rate. 

People who receive the higher rate of the mobility aspect can potentially use their benefits towards the cost of leasing a car, scooter, powered wheelchair or wheelchair accessible vehicle through the motability scheme.

Additionally, if their condition is affecting their ability or limiting their capacity to work they could also be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance.

The application process for PIP can be daunting, as it involves in-depth questions on the initial form as well as an assessment to see the extent of one’s condition. 

The benefit is not means-tested meaning one’s income, savings and employment do not affect their application, the only thing that does is their condition or disability. 

Because of this is it vital that Britons are honest and open in the application process. 

Benefit Answers noted that it would not bode well for Britons to over exaggerate their difficulties, nor should they purposefully exclude or minimise their struggle. 

Because of the nature of some illnesses and conditions, people may find they are perfectly able to do a task on one day but cannot do it the next.

Benefit Answers recommended people use how they feel the majority of the time to answer the questions on the claim form. 

Each question on the claim form has additional space for claimants to add further information they think may be relevant. 

This is where people can note that they are sometimes able to do the task but for the majority of the time they are unable to.

Additionally, this is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about the application process as many believe they should answer the questions as if it was their worst day.

Benefit Answers explained: “Very few people answer negatively to every single question in the form or find themselves 100 percent incapable of ‘anything’. Your assessment form will be reviewed by a real person at the DWP and they are able to infer when someone is answering questions as if it was the worst day they’ve ever had suffering from their condition.”

A DWP Spokesperson said: “We know that living with a long-term illness or disability can impact on living costs and financial support is available to those with disabilities, or those who care for them.

“We urge people to check whether they are receiving all of the benefits to which they are entitled, and to be aware of the wider support this opens up, including help with transport, broadband or prescription costs.

“In addition, the Government is taking decisive action to help more than 27 million households with rising energy costs, with a £200 reduction on bills this autumn, a £150 non-repayable reduction in Council Tax bills and our £1billion household support fund is helping the most vulnerable with essential costs.”

Express.co.uk has contacted DWP for further comment. 

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