We’ve all seen the headlines: if only millennials cancelled their Netflix subscriptions and bought fewer lattes they’d be able to save for a deposit and get on the housing ladder. While that outdated view has been debunked (even ditching those spends it would still take you over 35 years to save) media discussions around this topic leaves out one key group of people, many of whom are prohibited from saving for their future: disabled people.

There are 14.1 million disabled people in the UK and 19% of them are working age adults. Of these disabled working adults, 250,000 use social care to support their independence – and that cost of care is a far bigger burden than splurging on brunch. 

You might not know it, but currently, if you’re a disabled person living in England needing care, with savings of more than £23,500, you’ll have to pay for your care entirely by yourself with no government support at all. 

If you have more than £14,250 in savings, you will have to contribute towards your care costs until your savings fall below this amount. Any savings you have are capped, and once you hit that limit you’ll be paying for basic needs, like support to use the bathroom, making meals, help to get dressed until your money runs out. 

Halifax estimates that the average first-time buyer deposit is £59,000 - way above the savings cap disabled people needing care are restricted by. Even the lowest 5% deposit (an average of £12,500) takes you nail-bitingly close to the cap. And with the typical cost of care priced at £20 per hour (depending on where you live) anything you were saving for a deposit, or a rainy day, would be quickly eaten up by self-funded care costs.

The Government is in the process of a social care reform, but these changes will still come with strict financial assessments that ultimately cap the savings - and subsequently aspirations -  of disabled people, especially those of a working age. 

Campaigners are arguing that for disabled people to have the same choice and opportunities as non-disabled people, charging them for social care and capping their savings should be abolished.

They’re also arguing that recommendations made in 2015 should be put into law, stating that anyone under 40 should have no cap on their savings. That would allow young disabled people the chance to save for a deposit before that money is used up by care costs.

But, saving problems don’t end there for disabled people. Even without these caps, research has found disabled people face, on average, extra costs of £583 a month compared to non-disabled people. Specialist equipment, home adaptations, additional fuel costs from heating and charging equipment – these are essential costs,  not things that can easily be sacrificed.

If you do finally manage to save for a deposit, there are other homebuying costs to consider too. Life insurance is an essential part of a mortgage agreement but if you have a disability, finding affordable cover could prove difficult.

Then there’s the cost of adaptations. Everyone wants to make their home their own with a lick of paint and some DIY but when you’re disabled, the renovations could be drastic and costly, like installing a wet room or a hoist.

So why not rent, or apply for social housing instead?

A report by the EHRC in 2018 found that applications for social housing were hindered by long waiting lists and in the private sector, only 7% of properties offered homes with minimal accessibility. Disabled people also reported that landlords were reluctant to allow adaptions, including basic changes like a ramp to the front door, despite it being against the law to discriminate against a disabled tenant. 

The impact of not having a suitable home is devastating. The same report found inaccessible housing had a detrimental effect on disabled people’s mobility issues and mental health, as well as increased feelings of social isolation and indignity. It also meant they were 4 times less likely to be in work. 

You can see why for many people the dream of becoming a homeowner is so important. It’s about building a secure future, gaining independence and having control. If you own your home, you can ensure it fits your needs. But as it stands, disabled people are shut out of this possibility by not being able to hold any significant savings.

In England there is a scheme to support disabled people into shared ownership known as HOLD, but there are only a few lenders offering mortgages for this scheme. But if your income is supported by benefits, welfare reforms and changes in the amount of benefits you receive can become a frightening and uncertain financial prospect.

For many disabled people, finding the money for a deposit and the extra costs of being disabled, means the dream of homeowning is not just difficult, but feels impossible. 

If we’re ever going to understand the extra obstacles faced by disabled people when it comes to saving, and the support they need, we need to recognise these financial pressures and include disabled voices in this conversation.

How to help

Sign this petition to scrap care charging and get involved with the work of Leonard Cheshire, a charity campaigning on the issue.

Follow Chloe on Twitter to learn more.