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Disabled people and their families are among the people most affected by the cost of living crisis, a grim new study from national disability charity Sense shows.
Around 33% of disabled people told Sense that they would not celebrate Christmas this year due to financial reasons. More than a third (34%) said they were not seeing friends or family or buying festive food (37%).
Almost half (48%) of the 1,005 UK respondents said they would not buy presents, while two in five (42%) would not turn on festive lights for fear of energy costs.
The sobering new findings are “no surprise,” said Richard Kramer, CEO of Sense.
“Every day, disabled people have to make impossible decisions, like whether to eat or heat the house,” he said. “And Christmas, far from being a time for celebration, has become an additional, unbearable expense.”
For the Butlers, the costs of caring for Geordie are rising. You must charge and run a feeding machine, operate a special bed, and keep the house warm as he is prone to illness. The couple pay £2,250 a year to place him on day services at Sense Touchbase Pears in Birmingham, the closest group that can support him.
Christmas is particularly difficult as Geordie doesn’t understand that “Santa has a budget”.
“When he sees his presents under the tree he is so happy, he is incredibly excited,” says Keith.
“We can’t take that away from him, so no one else will get a gift. His three older siblings will only receive a symbolic gift, as will our six grandchildren.”
The family’s income, made up of Keith’s pension and Geordie’s Universal Credit, cannot cover the rising costs.
You are not alone. Sense estimates that the cost of living crisis has pushed more than half (53%) of disabled people into debt, and two thirds (66%) say they are constantly worried about bills.
In last month’s autumn statement, the government pledged to address these concerns, pledging to increase benefits by 6.7% from April next year.
But Sense warns that it’s “not enough.” The charity is now calling for targeted emergency financial support to help the most vulnerable households.
“What we really need is a social tariff, and many people like Martin Lewis have been campaigning for this for years, but absolutely no progress has been made,” demands Keith.
“We are prisoners of our bills. We can’t live, Geordie can’t live. And there are families in much worse situations who are under endless pressure. We can’t wait for another winter.”
Source : www.bigissue.com