A man and woman looking at bills

Cost of living crisis: How it disproportionately affects people with long-term health conditions

Our Chief Executive, Lesslie Young, looks at how the cost of living crisis disproportionately affects people living with long-term health conditions like epilepsy.

A diagnosis of epilepsy can touch many different areas of a person’s life like loss of employment, driving, independence, career choice and relationships.

Levels of stress and anxiety can grow, and people can experience a loss of self-confidence and self-esteem.

People with epilepsy are disproportionally affected by poverty and many struggle to access the financial support they need to remain independent, find or stay in employment. (61% of clients who accessed our Welfare Rights Service in 2021 live in the two most deprived Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation quintile areas.)

This is further exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis affecting the UK.



The key findings of a 2019 report by the TUC stated:

Disabled people experience significant barriers to getting and keeping jobs. This results in an employment gap of around 30 per cent. But this report shows disabled people face double discrimination.

Not only are they less likely to have a paid job but when they do, disabled people earn substantially less than their non-disabled peers.

The report found some groups of disabled people had far lower levels of employment and significant barriers in accessing the workplace than others.

The disabled workers with the lowest employment rates, grouped according to the ONS Labour Force Survey (LFS) classifications, are people with:

  • learning difficulties – 14.8 per cent in employment
  • speech impediments – 20.4 per cent in employment
  • epilepsy – 33.6 per cent in employment
  • mental illness, phobias or panics – 33.7 per cent in employment
  • impairments linked to arms, hands – 38.4 per cent in employment.

The disability employment gap decreased slightly in 2020 but we all need to do more to ensure barriers to employment facing disabled people are addressed.

One YouGov poll found over a quarter of UK employees would be concerned about working with someone who has epilepsy. One of the main reasons cited was fear of safety.

If you are an employer Our Epilepsy Friendly Award (EFA) educates businesses and their employees to be more aware of epilepsy and what to do if someone has a seizure.

Also, the EFA recognises businesses that have made adjustments to ensure they are accessible to people with epilepsy.

Furthermore, the award demonstrates an ability and willingness to help people with epilepsy, should they require it.

Making your premises accessible does not mean making large or expensive changes.

Small inexpensive adjustments can make a world of difference to a person living with epilepsy.


Welfare Rights

Ensuring people with epilepsy receive the appropriate level of disability benefit and tax relief they are entitled to saves health & social care expenditure and helps support people with epilepsy to live healthier lives.

Epilepsy Scotland’s Welfare Rights Service is the only service in the UK providing specialist 1:1 advice and support on claiming financial entitlements and navigating the benefits system for people with epilepsy.

Clients report that the support of the Welfare Rights Officers had a positive impact on their ability to self-manage their epilepsy during the claims/assessment process.

“Epilepsy Scotland helped and supported me with my PIP appeal, I have no doubt that, without their help, my appeal would not have been successful, the help and empathy I received in what was an incredibly stressful time cannot be underestimated.”

Please reach out to us by calling our freephone helpline if you are struggling. Call us on 0808 800 2200.