Living with a disability or caring for someone with a disability can come with many unexpected expenses. According to the charity Scope, on average, these extra costs are adding up to an additional £600 a month.
If you’ve had to stop work, reduce your hours, or live on a reduced income, it can make managing these costs even harder, especially in light of the current cost of living crisis. In fact, 48% of disabled households have struggled at times to keep their home comfortable and warm this year, compared to 30% of non-disabled households. To help you make the most of your money, here are seven money-saving tips for people living with disabilities.
1. Help towards your heating costs
There are several schemes available to help towards the costs of heating your home this winter:
Warm House Discount Scheme
With the Warm Home Discount Scheme, you could be entitled to £150 off your electricity bill. You won’t receive the money directly; instead, it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill. If your supplier provides you with gas and electricity, you may be eligible to get a discount on your gas bill instead. Speak to your supplier to find out more.
Cold Weather Payment
If you receive certain benefits, you may be entitled to a Cold Weather Payment of £25 for every seven days of extremely cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. To be eligible, the temperature in your area must be zero degrees celsius or below for seven days. Find out if your area is eligible for payment.
Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born before 26 September 1956, you could get £250 to £600 Winter Fuel Payment towards your heating bills. It includes a Pensioner Cost of Living Payment of £150 to £300. If you are eligible, you should receive the payment automatically, and a letter will be sent to you in October or November explaining how much you’ll receive. However, if you think you’re eligible but haven’t had a letter, find out if you need to make a claim.
2. Check you are getting all your benefits
It’s a good idea to check that you receive all the relevant benefits you are entitled to, such as:
- Attendance Allowance: If you are of state pension age or older and have a disability severe enough to mean you need someone to look after you, this benefit can help cover the additional costs.
- Carers Allowance: Your main carer can receive £69.70 a week if they provide care to you for a minimum of 35 hours a week.
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA): This is designed to help towards the extra costs of caring for a child under the age of 16 who has mobility issues or requires much more looking after than a child of the same age who isn’t living with a disability. The DLA rate is £24.45 and £156.90 per week, depending on the level of help required by the child.
- Personal Independence Payments (PIP): If you are over 16 but under state pension age and have a disability or long-term health issue, you could receive between £24.45 and £156.90 a week, tax-free.
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA): If you have a health condition or a disability that impacts how much you can work, you can receive money to help you with living costs if you cannot work or support you to return to work if you can. ESA pays up to £117.60 a week, and you can apply for it if you’re unemployed, self-employed or employed.
You can also check the Government’s online benefits calculator to help you work out how much you could be entitled to.
3. Apply for VAT relief
If you have a long-term illness or disability that restricts your ability to do everyday tasks, you might be eligible for VAT relief and not have to be VAT on products designed or adapted for your own use. This can include certain types of:
- Adjustable beds
- Low vision aids (but not contact lenses or glasses)
- Building work to improve accessibility for wheelchair users
- Vehicles, including leasing a Motability vehicle
You don’t qualify for VAT relief if you have a temporary disability or are elderly but not disabled. VAT is removed at the time of purchase and cannot be claimed retrospectively.
4. Savings on your water bill
If you have a disability that requires you to use a lot of water, this could be an area where you can save money. WaterSure is a scheme available in England and Wales that allows certain customers on a water meter to have their bills capped. It ensures that these customers don’t have to cut back on how much water they use because of concerns over how they will pay their bills. You can apply to this scheme through your water supplier.
You may also be able to save money with a water meter. This free online water meter calculator asks about your water use and then provides the estimated costs if you have a meter. Alternatively, you can contact your water company directly and ask them for its calculator, which will provide you with a more accurate idea of whether you’ll be able to make a saving.
5. Council Tax discount
If you have a disability, you may be eligible for a council tax discount. Check with your council to see if you qualify for a discount which will reduce how much council tax you pay. You are not required to pay council tax if you are a live-in carer providing care for someone who is not your child, spouse or partner.
You may also be eligible for a reduction in your council tax through the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme if your home is bigger than you would need if you didn’t have a disability.
You may qualify for a council tax discount if you have been diagnosed with permanent severe mental impairment (SMI). This could result from a stroke, severe learning difficulties, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia. If you have been diagnosed with an SMI and:
- Live alone or only with others with severe mental impairment; you are exempt from council tax.
- Live with one adult; you are entitled to a 25% discount.
- Live with two or more adults; there is no reduction. However, if these adults are your full-time carers, you may be eligible for a 50% discount, provided your carers meet certain conditions
6. Grants for children with disabilities
If you have a child aged 17 or under with a life-limiting illness, long-term disability or disabling condition who lives with you, you may be entitled to a grant from Family Fund. These grants can be used to pay for items that will benefit your child, including furniture, electronics, clothing, days out, kitchen appliances, leisure equipment, garden improvements, and sensory toys. To qualify, Family Fund will look at your income, the benefits you receive (such as universal credit or income support) and the impact of the disability on your child.
7. Motability good condition bonus
If you return your accessible vehicle to Motability in good condition, you may be eligible to receive a Good Condition Payment. When you collect your new vehicle, Motability will set aside a small amount of the value of the lease. When the lease ends, Motability will return this money to you if the vehicle is in good condition. The amount you receive depends on the length of your lease agreement. For a three-year lease, you can expect to get £259 or £350 for a five-year lease.
Other tips for saving money at home
Here are some other tips for saving money around the home that you might be able to put into action:
- Wash your laundry at a lower temperature: Washing your clothes at a lower temperature uses less energy and will cost you less as a result
- Use your washing machine and dryer at night: Energy rates are considerably cheaper at night. While off-peak times vary depending on each supplier, they tend to be 10pm to 8am. If you have a timer delay function on your washing machine and dryer, set it to run between these times
- Avoid using your tumble dryer: Instead, invest in an electric heated clothes airer instead, which is much cheaper to run
- Turn your heating down: By dropping the heat down by just one degree, you could save 10% off your heating bill
- Only heat the rooms you use: Install individual thermostat valves for each radiator in your home and turn off the ones in rooms you hardly use.
- Draft-proof your home: Draft-proofing your doors, windows and the gaps between the floor and skirting boards can help you to save some money off your energy bill and make your home feel warmer during winter
- Switch to energy-saving lightbulbs: Energy-saving lightbulbs are brighter, last longer, and are more energy efficient than traditional bulbs, saving you money.
- Turn off appliances at the plug: Leaving electrical items on standby will continue to drain energy. Switching off the plug can save you between 9% and 16% of your home’s electricity consumption which can make a big dent in your energy bills
- Pay insurance up front: Paying for your insurance for six months or a year in advance rather than month by month will usually mean you can get a discount on your policy
Check out MoneySavingExpert for more tips on saving money for people with disabilities. There’s also a variety of specialist organisations, charities and services offering support and advice on mobility and disabled living.
If you are looking for a new wheelchair-accessible vehicle, GowringsVersa Mobility offers a wide range of vehicles. For more information, contact us any time at 0345 608 8020 or contact us online.