I understand that disabled people and their families can encounter many hidden costs, from specialised equipment to travel expenditure.
I welcome the ongoing work on practical measures that will improve the daily lives of people with disabilities and ensure they can fully participate in society through the National Strategy for Disabled People. The strategy is to be published later this year and will set out how Government will support people with disabilities in all aspects and phases of life.
Furthermore, the upcoming Health and Disability Green Paper will explore how the welfare system can better meet the needs of disabled people and those with health conditions. Spending in this area increased by almost 5 per cent in 2020 from £19 billion to £20 billion.
I encourage constituents to apply for additional support: through universal credit; through the increase in the discretionary housing payment; or through the £500 million hardship fund allocated by local authorities based on individual circumstances.
To help with travel costs, many councils also offer free or discounted fares. Additionally, local councils have been allocated funds – via the Covid Winter Grant Scheme - to help those facing hardship, with a focus on families with children. I am encouraged that our Access to Work programme has been updated so that people can access a blended offer that provides support both at home and at someone’s normal place of work.
It is vital that our welfare system supports those who need it and would emphasise that this year alone over £55 billion is being spent on benefits to support disabled people and those with health conditions. I know my colleagues across government continue to monitor research and campaigning from a wide variety of sources as they consider the future of welfare and disability policy.