Now, you may be thinking; “what an odd title for a blog post”, but please hear me out.
If you are living with a disability, then you know how expensive it can be. Cost of transport, taxies, mobility aids and services – they all add up. But there are schemes in place that are designed to ease the financial burden of being disabled, and they can also make life a little easier.
Whether you have recently qualified for PIP for the first time, or have been registered disabled for years, you may be able to make the most of these perks. You may also be eligible for additional financial help if you qualify for PIP benefit.
Why not take advantage of some of these benefits?
Who is eligible?
You automatically qualify for many of the schemes discussed in this article if you receive the mobility part of the benefit PIP (Personal Independence Payment). However, you don’t always have to be in receipt of PIP to make the most of these discounts. Simply having a disability that places restrictions on your life, means you may be eligible for additional help.
The following is a list of UK (some are only England and Wales, although similar schemes are available in Scotland and NI) services and schemes that you may qualify for if you are disabled.
✔️Money saving travel tips
There are lots of discounts for disabled people and carers on everything from car costs and parking, to rail fares and bus passes. Whether you prefer to travel by car or use public transport, as a disabled person you might qualify for a range of schemes designed to help.
Free or discounted bus travel
You may qualify for free local bus travel. I have a free bus pass, which not only gives me free local bus travel, but also allows my carer to travel with me for free. I applied through my local council and it was a simple online process. Contact your local council to find out more. You can also get a Free Transport check with your local council which will ascertain your eligibility for free or discounted travel.
National Express also offer a disabled person’s scheme, which offers a third of standard fares nationwide.
Discounted rail travel
Disabled persons railcard – With a Disabled Persons Railcard you can get 1/3 off rail fares to travel across Britain. If you frequently travel by rail this railcard may be save you money.
Free or discounted vehicle tax
You may be exempt from paying vehicle tax, or at least receive a reduction in the cost, if you are registered disabled.
You can apply for exemption from paying vehicle tax if you get the:
- higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
The vehicle must be registered in the disabled person’s name or their nominated driver’s name. This has to be done at the post office, it cannot be done online. But once the car has been registered you can renew online, each year, using your B11 reminder letter and the reference number on your PIP certificate award letter.
It must only be used for the disabled person’s personal needs. It cannot be used by the nominated driver for their own personal use.
For more information about applying for vehicle tax exemption please click here
Blue Badge scheme
The Blue Badge Scheme provides a range of parking benefits for disabled people who have difficulty walking. For example, you can park for free in pay-and-display bays and also on double and single yellow lines.
If you’re disabled or have a health condition that affects your mobility, you can apply for a Blue Badge. You can also apply for a badge if you care for a child with a health condition that affects their mobility.
Councils can charge for a blue badge. The most you can be charged is £10. You can use the permit in any vehicle, as long as the badge holder is present (whether driving or being driven). It isn’t assigned to a specific vehicle.
If you have qualified for the higher rate of the mobility component of PIP then you automatically qualify for a blue badge. If you don’t receive the higher rate of the mobility component of PIP you can still apply for a blue badge. The cost is the same, but without automatic qualification you need to reapply every year, and there is no guarantee your application will be successful.
The Motability Scheme provides an affordable, worry-free way for people with disabilities to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair in exchange for their mobility allowance.
Basically, you can hire a car, scooter or powered wheelchair, at reduced rates. You must be in receipt of the mobility component of the benefit PIP to qualify. Your level of mobility component will determine what your can get.
To be honest, it’s not cost effective in the long term but for those who can’t afford to buy a wheelchair, mobility scooter or car outright, the Motability scheme offers an option to hire these, at more affordable prices.
Lanyard scheme at airports
This is not a financial perk, but it is a handy scheme worth taking advantage of when you travel by air. This scheme, which has been rolled out across all UK airports, is designed to offer additional help to those living with a disability, and their carers. It is specifically targeted at people with hidden disabilities. The idea is that by wearing a lanyard you signal to staff that you have a disability, and may need extra assistance. It’s a free scheme, and I personally know a few people who have used it, and they talk very highly about the service. Contact the airport you are using before travelling, to find out more.
✔️Discounts on leisure activities
Disabled people and their carers can get discounts from some companies and organisations, for many different leisure activities. So, if you are planning a day out, it’s worth checking before you book.
Because these schemes also offer discounts for your carer, the cost of a day out, or trip to the cinema becomes a lot more affordable. Your carer can be anyone that is accompanying you to assist you e.g. a friend or relative. Carers may also travel for free when they accompany you.
Cinema Exhibitors’ Association (CEA) Card
The CEA Card is a national card scheme developed for UK cinemas, which ensures that participating cinemas make reasonable adjustments for disabled guests when they go to the cinema; in particular, it ensures a complimentary ticket for someone to go with them.
Music & Performance Venues
Music & Performance venues run by local councils offer discounts for disabled customers, free carers tickets and accessible seating for many of their events. Check your local venues for details.
Performances and Exhibitions, which are sponsored by The Arts Council, offer a free carer’s ticket, as well as a reduction in price for the disabled visitor.
Local Museums & Galleries
Council run museums and galleries are free, but often have visiting exhibitions which are charged. In many cases, a free carers ticket is offered, as well as a reduction in price for the disabled visitor. For example, special exhibitions at The V&A Museum, London, offer this to disabled visitors. Check with the museum, and have some form of evidence, such as your Blue Badge or Disabled Railcard, when getting your ticket.
Carer’s get Free admission at National Trust and English Heritage properties
Both the National Trust and English Heritage give free entry to companions or carers of disabled visitors. The disabled visitor pays the normal admission fee or membership. To save having to ask for free entry at a National Trust property, you can apply for an ‘Access for All Admit One Card’ in advance.
Free admission for carers at football matches
Some clubs offer this to fans with disabilities and their carers.
Check with your local club to see if they do.
✔️Health Related Perks
From buying mobility aids, to health and daily living products that make life easier – there are schemes and discounts available to reduce the cost. You can also reduce the cost of your prescriptions, which we all know can add up to a considerable amount.
Free mobility and daily living aids
If you require mobility or daily living aids because of your disability, there’s a good chance you can receive these free of charge, on a long term loan basis from either your local council or NHS Trust. You may also be eligible for free home adaptations like a wet room or stair lift, but this will depend on your financial situation and local council policy.
You will need to be assessed by an occupational therapist (OT) ,who will assess you needs, and propose aids or adaptations.
Smaller items like perching stools or shower chairs can be accessed through your local NHS Trust. To arrange an OT assessment, please speak to your GP.
For adaptations like bathroom conversions and stair lifts, and large, expensive items like hospital bed and rise and recliner chair, you will need to contact your local council for an assessment. Your specific needs will then be assessed, but your contribution for any adaptations will depend on your financial circumstances. I had my bathroom converted into a wet room for free through this local council scheme, something I could not have afforded on my own.
VAT relief on mobility and daily living aids
Certain health, mobility and daily living aids are available zero rated and therefore free from VAT (Value Added Tax) at the current rate of 20%.
If you are disabled or have a chronic medical condition, you are eligible to claim relief from VAT. There is no need to register with HM Revenue and Customs but you will need to complete a VAT Relief Form with the company you are purchasing from.
You will need to complete a form to verify you qualify. Some website have online forms so the 20% is removed before you pay, while other sites will require you to print out and complete a form after purchase. And will refund you on receipt of the form. Please check with the company you are purchasing from. Please click here to find out more.
Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PCC)
You don’t need to be disabled to buy a PCC, anyone can buy one. But I wanted to mention it because not everyone knows this scheme exists, and it can reduce the cost of your prescriptions quite considerably. If you pay for your prescriptions and have more than 3 prescriptions filled every three months, then you can save money by buying a PCC.
A prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) lets you get as many NHS prescriptions as you need for a set price.
The prescription charge in England is £8.80 per item.
A PPC costs:
£29.10 for 3 months
£104 for 12 months
I have saved a considerable amount of money over the years just by buying a yearly PCC.
To find out more please click here
You may be eligible for additional benefit top-ups
Qualifying for PIP may also entitle you to a top up on other benefits. Please click here to find out more.
You may get a top-up (called a premium) on the following benefits if you get PIP:
- Housing Benefit
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Council tax discounts
- Employment and Support Allowance – but only if you get the PIP daily living component
- Pension Credit – but only if you get the PIP daily living component
Why shouldn’t we make the most of the perks available to us?
Being disabled brings with it many accessibility challenges and frustrations, and additional costs. When I was first registered as disabled I had no idea of the number of services, schemes and discounts available to me. I hope this post has helped you understand the assistance that is available for disabled people in the UK. And don’t forget, many schemes also offer free or discounted benefits for your carer too.
Living with a disability can be tough. Why shouldn’t we make the most of the perks available to us?
Have I missed any disability schemes or discounts? What are your favourite perks?
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