Blog – Something is seriously wrong… 

In this blog Bill Scott, Senior Policy Advisor and Heather Fisken, Head of Policy and Research

at Inclusion Scotland write about the cost of living crisis and the devastating impact it’s having on disabled people in Scotland.

When moving around your own home, getting out to use services or just because you want to come down to whether you can afford to, something is seriously wrong.  

When you can’t afford to eat more than one meal a day or even to eat so that you can take your essential prescription drugs, something is seriously wrong.   

If you can’t pay to heat or cool your home as your doctor has told you to, something is seriously wrong.  

When you can’t afford to use equipment for independent living or to manage your health condition because the energy costs are too high, something is seriously wrong.  

“Extremely badly” is how the crisis is affecting them say disabled people. That’s putting it mildly.  

Yet despite all the above happening every day for months and years on end public bodies like local authorities and the DWP are chasing debts leaving disabled people with even less money to survive.  

This is seriously wrong.  

Disabled people have fewer savings and often none, and their credit ratings are in ruins making it impossible to replace essential white goods like fridges. The few interest rates available to them are extortionate and completely unaffordable.  

Even before this cost-of-living crisis it was more expensive to be a disabled person, and that’s been seriously wrong for a very long time.  

As the costs of essentials like food and fuel continue to spiral upwards, budgeting is considered pointless as there are simply no bargains to be had. Even ’Good to Go’ packs are becoming scarcer as demand increases. 

Stress and worry about the coming winter and coping with bills and demands from creditors is all too common. This is having a knock-on effect on disabled people’s physical health conditions, and coping with constant worry and the pain resulting from not being able to manage health-conditions is having a detrimental impact on mental health and wellbeing. 

One disabled person told Inclusion Scotland they had to miss GP appointments. Unable to heat their home, they were in too much pain to make the journey. Another found the recent heat wave difficult to cope with because of breathing difficulties and body temperature issues.  

All this has an impact on relationships as families argue about eating less or eating cheaper, less healthy food and trying to cope with incoming bills and demands from creditors. Social isolation is growing as people are barely getting out the house. 

“My mental health has been worse than ever before this year and while it’s not financially rooted, finance is impacting it.” 

No one should be surprised that all this will have repercussions for years to come for disabled people, their families, and communities, and all their futures. 

But there are things that can be done. Both the UK and Scottish governments need to take large-scale action now. You can read Inclusion Scotland’s updated briefing on the actions disabled people say are needed to start solving these serious wrongs. 

Disabled people members of the Poverty Lived Experience Group who spoke to Inclusion Scotland recently about the impact of the crisis on their physical and mental health suggested further solutions. They highlighted the need for more front-line mental health support. They want to see local off-grid fuel ‘clubs’ set up, energy profits taxed and changes to Council Tax recovery and ‘tax avoidance’ schemes. They spoke about how increasing the cost of living payment for carers would assist disabled people they care for, and the need to end delays to Adult Disability Payment claims being processed and people receiving the money they are entitled to. They want action to bring down supermarket prices.  

If nothing changes and decision-makers do not listen to disabled people, something is very seriously wrong.  

Thanks to Inclusion Scotland’s Poverty and Social Security Lived Experience Group for sharing their experience of the physical and mental health impact of the cost of living crisis they are experiencing.  

If you are a disabled person and would like to join the Group so that decision-makers better understand what needs to change please contact us. See Inclusion Scotland’s contact page for details.