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Experiencing a disability premium - experiences shared in our women's survey

Blog by Heather Williams, SWBG Training Lead

This is the third blog in our series looking at what women told us earlier this year when we conducted a survey to find out more about their local public spending priorities, impact of the cost of living crisis and experiences of child and social care.

We heard from women in every local authority area in Scotland. 425 women responded to the survey with a range of life experiences. This blog focuses on the responses of women who disclosed that they had a disability. 87 of the women who completed the survey identified as having a disability.

Our survey highlighted the economic impact and the heightened chance of women experiencing poverty if they have a disability, the numbers with a household income of less than £10.000 is almost 3 times higher for those with disabilities than in the full sample (16.09% compared to 5.65%), while those with a household income of less than £19,999 were more than double the full sample (22.99% compared to 11.53%).

The impact of the current cost of living crisis was also being felt by this group at an increased rate. In comparison to the full data sample on all elements those who identified as disabled stated they struggled to meet costs;

Food costs – 15% higher

Energy costs – 16% higher

Housing costs – 14% higher

Transport costs – 6% higher

Respondents told us that they were concerned about the cost of living increases and that they experienced a disability premium (facing increased costs related to their disability that they struggled to meet):

‘I can't work f/t because of my disability so have a very low-income but because I work there is no help. If my energy bill goes up I can't afford it, I have no more money.’

‘I live with my parents. I'm disabled, but not enough to get PIP. So if it weren't for my parents, I'd be homeless. I can't work enough to earn enough to live on my own. I barely make enough to buy my own food and travel to work. Any increases, like those mentioned above, mean that I am even further from ever being able to survive on my own.’

‘I have a disability which is made worse by cold temperatures. I am fearful about turning my heating on at the moment in case I get a frightening bill. It is preventing me from being able to manage larger payments for repairs in my house.’

Our survey also showed that of those in employment almost double the numbers of disabled women were self-employed while rates of women in full time employment were almost half of that for the full sample.

Of the women who accessed childcare they were paying between £550 and £120 per month towards childcare, depending on circumstances and children’s age, from this it would appear that rates of using childcare are lower in this group which possibly reflects the lower rates of full-time employment and higher rate of self-employment and not working due to their health conditions/disability.

Those who responded to our survey told us that they struggled to manage childcare and household costs at a higher rate than those in our full sample and that for 50% of those who responded their partners did not make any changes to their paid work arrangements in order to manage childcare (this slightly higher rate possibly reflects the higher number of single parents within this group). The impact of managing childcare included:

‘In the past I have struggled to pay childcare fees and found these to be almost as much of a worry as rent.’

‘It is hard to find a childcare space, and communication is sparse. We want our child to have social interaction with other children but cannot afford to send him more than 2 days a week. We are over the earning threshold to qualify for 2 year old funded place by £30 a month. Two days a week at nursery costs £280-£330 a month.’

‘Struggling to get space in after club, a lot time school off no child care, been self-employed and must stop work when no child care access or holiday off from school.’

‘Unable to earn a professional salary and resigned to stay at home due to lack of childcare provision. Tax credits are means tested so do not offset costs of a private childcare provider once you earn over a certain threshold.’

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