Financial Support Services for People with Disabilities
Financial Support Services for People with Disabilities
According the research by Scope, the life of a disabled person will, on average, cost an extra £583 a month when compared to those living without a disability. There are numerous costs that welfare alone can’t cover, leaving individuals and families left short.
However, there is support available for those that need it; once you know what you’re entitled to, there are numerous services designed to help those who are struggling to cover the costs of day-to-day life and save money.
According to the government, those with disabilities and long-term illnesses shouldn’t be charged VAT on essential items and the equipment that they rely on. This includes but is not limited to:
- Emergency alarms
- Specialist beds
- Building work for adjustments for handrails and ramps
- Installation costs, repairs and maintenance
To check what’s included, you can refer to the HMRC guide for more information.
It’s worth noting that it’s always best to check if the discount is available for the item before purchasing it. Also be aware that the discount is removed during purchase instead of reclaiming the VAT back afterwards.
Utility Bill Reduction
If you’re disabled or living with a disabled person, you can claim certain discounts on your utility.
If you have a medical condition that requires the use of a significant amount of water and are on benefits, you could potentially be eligible to pay the area’s average metered bill.
The scheme works by using a fitted water metre and capping your bill to the surrounding area’s average. If you use under the average, then you’ll only need to pay for what you’ve used.
To apply, all you need to do is speak to your water supplier and fill out a form. You will need evidence to support your application; this can include your awards notice of benefits and proof of your medical condition.
Warm Home Discount
To help support vulnerable customers who can’t afford their energy bills, this discount includes a credit of £140 on your energy bill, which will be credited between September and March.
To be eligible, you will need to either have a low income, receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, or get means-tested benefits like universal credit. There is a limited amount available each year, so the scheme works on a first-come-first-served basis.
Reduced Council Tax
Council tax is calculated on the size of the property. However, being disabled can often require extra space, such as a large washroom or space to allow access for wheelchairs and specialist equipment. Be sure to ask your local council about the Disabled Band Reduction scheme to see if you could be entitled to a reduced council tax bill.
If you have been diagnosed with SMI and are living alone, you won’t need to pay council tax. However, if you live with another adult, you can gain a 25% discount.
Disabled Student Allowance
If your disability affects your studies, you can apply for DSA. To apply, you need to be in either full or part-time education for at least a year. The allowance is intended to help cover the costs incurred from studying with a disability.
You can apply for DSA when applying for other student finance, such as tuition and maintenance fees. If you’re not applying for other loans, you’ll need to download a DSA1 application form, which can be found on the Student Finance website.
Students that are eligible for the NHS Disabled Students’ Allowance won’t be able to also apply for DSA.
A medical condition or physical disability can exempt you from paying the standard prescription charge; for this, you will need a valid medical exemption certificate.
You can collect a form from your doctor; the application process should take around two weeks. Between applying and receiving your medical exemption certificate, you can apply for a refund on your purchased prescriptions. But be sure to ask for an FP57 refund receipt when paying.
Reduced Rates at Libraries
Some libraries will offer lower rates for bookings and borrowings for disabled people. You will usually find free or cheaper audio-visual material available for disabled people. Sadly, this is not a service that is required, so not all libraries will offer it. Get in touch with your local council to find out what particular discounts are available.
Some local authorities offer a free delivery service for disabled and housebound people, which is worth finding out more about if you are unable to visit your local library.
Reduced Travel Tariffs
Fortunately, there are discount schemes when it comes to travel, which can help make life that little bit easier.
The Blue Badge allows holders to park their car at reduced rates or park in exclusive areas that offer better mobility and accessibility. Blue Badges also offer other benefits, such as parking on double yellow lines if the car isn’t blocking access or creating an obstruction.
Most public car parks will allow Blue Badge holders to park for free during certain periods. However, this will need to be double-checked.
Those with “hidden” disabilities, such as anxiety or dementia, can now get a Blue Badge. However, the eligibility does vary; you can find further information at GOV.UK.
Disabled bus passes are available to apply for through your local council, or you can apply for discounted bus travel.
Those living in London can apply for a Freedom Pass, which allows free travel across the city, including the use of the tube, busses and rail journeys.
Rail & Coach Travel
Disabled railcards provide a lot of savings, which can quickly add up. Annually, they will cost £20, but you will receive a third off of your travel at any time. When travelling with a carer, they will also receive a third off of their fare.
The National Express Disabled Coachcard is priced at a reduced amount of £12.50, but this may also incur an extra P&P charge of £2.50. Like the railcard, the coach card also offers a third off of your travel fare.
To receive the cards, you will need to prove your eligibility; commonly accepted evidence includes proof of receiving Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or are registered as having a hearing or visual impairment.
We hope this article has proven to be a helpful resource. As proud providers of holidays for people with disabilities, supporting those with disabilities and their families is at the heart of what we do.
For more information about The Calvert Experience, please get in touch with our friendly team.