A report shows disabled people on average face extra costs of £570 a month related to their impairment or condition.
The organisation Scope says this is on top of welfare payments designed to help meet these costs.
A 22-year-old Bangor University student says every month he has an extra cost of about £1,300 compared to his non-disabled friends.
Piers Wilkinson blogs about his situation:
Being at university, surrounded by my non-disabled peers, has really highlighted the sheer amount of extra money that I have to spend, just because I happen to use a wheelchair.
Firstly, my wheelchair itself was incredibly expensive and I had to pay for that myself. The wheelchair offered by the NHS was unsuitable for my needs, so I had to pay over £4,800 for one just to be able to get around and go to lectures just like everyone else.
On top of that, on average, I spend another £300 a month replacing parts and maintaining the chair. Even with this upkeep, it needs to be completely replaced every three or four years.
My housing is also more expensive than my friends – the only accessible student housing available is £110 per week, whereas friends of mine pay as little as £40 a week for similar housing.
Travel costs are increased due to the unreliability of public transport, the nature of hills in North Wales and the location of my lectures. I have to spend about £400 a month on taxis just to get around.
Food costs are also higher. I require easy to prepare food, either pre-chopped or in small quantities. My friends can buy items like pasta in bulk or do a large shop and carry it home. Unfortunately as a wheelchair user, it’s really difficult to manage more than a small basket of items whenever I go shopping. So this can increase my monthly bill compared to my friends by an extra £150.
Related to that, because so many shops aren’t accessible, I have to order a lot of the things I need online and get charged for postage. It may not seem much per item but all of those payments add up over the year.
My income each year is decreasing. Even with a student loan, Disabled Students’ Allowance and Personal Independence Payment (PIP), I still face a monthly shortfall.
It plays havoc with my social life because I can’t afford to do much, and if I do anything I’m worried about its cost. I have to take almost every freelance opportunity to earn any money I can to try to keep myself afloat, which impacts on my studies.
It’s socially exclusionary as well because my friends stop asking me to go do things with them because they assume I can’t afford things, which means I do even less.
It’s almost impossible to get a part time student job just because I use a wheelchair. I’ll be leaving university with at least £130,000 debt.
– PIERS WILKINSON, STUDENT