More than half of disabled people feel “anxious, depressed or hopeless” about financial worries and problems, research suggests.
Leonard Cheshire warned that the pressure on disabled people’s budgets will be “seismic” as the cost of living crisis continues over the coming months, calling for Government support.
Disabled people are eating cold food and washing in cold water to cope with financial pressures, while others are having to wear allergy masks inside as they cannot afford to run the air filters they need for their condition.
Some people are also missing rent payments already due to rising costs, the charity said.
The financial difficulties disabled people are experiencing are leaving 55% feeling anxious, depressed or hopeless, according to a survey for the charity.
Some 1,207 working age disabled adults were polled by Savanta ComRes between February 17-21 about their experiences over the past year.
It found that around a quarter had missed meals (25%) or not heated their homes (28%), while a third (30%) had asked for financial help from friends or family.
Some 7% said they have less than £10 a week to pay for essentials such as food after paying for housing and bills.
This equates to 612,710 disabled people when extrapolated to the UK population.
A third of those surveyed said they have £50 or less to live on a week.
The charity said the Government has effectively cut support in real terms by not increasing the amount of benefits people receive in line with inflation.
And changes to the Warm Home Discount will cut eligibility for almost 300,000 disabled people, it said.
Lack of adequate social care is also compounding financial difficulties, with a quarter (24%) of those surveyed saying they have been unable to work due to inadequate social care support.
One disabled person told of how they had been eating food that does not need cooking, wearing the same clothes repeatedly to limit use of the washing machine, and showering in cold water.
They told the charity: “From just being able to survive with creative cost cutting, it has now become impossible”.
Another said they are “stuck at home and socially isolated” because they cannot afford “fun”.
Kyle, a university student who has been using food banks, said: “I feel like I’m spiralling out of control in costs. It increases my worries in this cost-of-living crisis.
“It has impacted my social life. I have to turn down social opportunities. I haven’t got the money to meet up.”
Ruth Owen, Leonard Cheshire chief executive, said: “How can anyone manage a weekly shop with £10?
“Many disabled people face impossible choices and are living day-by-day on a financial knife edge.
“The Government needs to recognise this and urgently act to avoid a desperate situation becoming a catastrophe.”
She added: “Individuals on very low incomes can face unavoidable extra costs daily just to manage their condition.
“The strain these budgets will be under in the coming months will be seismic.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “We know that living with a long-term illness or disability can impact on living costs and financial support is available to those with disabilities, or those who care for them.
“We urge people to check whether they are receiving all of the benefits to which they are entitled, and to be aware of the wider support this opens up, including help with transport, broadband or prescription costs.
“In addition, the Government is taking decisive action to help more than 27 million households with rising energy costs, with a £200 reduction on bills this autumn, a £150 non-repayable reduction in council tax bills, and our £1 billion household support fund is helping the most vulnerable with essential costs.”