Matching Income with needs
Devon in Sight were pleased to be involved in this research carried out by Department of Social Sciences Loughborough University in partnership with Thomas Pocklington Trust. This reasearch explores the experiences of visually impaired people who are living on a low income and how they meet their needs. It follows a series of studies using the Minimum Income Standards (MIS) method to calculate the additional costs of living for visually impaired people (MIS VI) and analysis comparing these to benefit and minimum wage levels. This new research, through in-depth interviews with visually impaired people with incomes around or below MIS VI, provides an insight into the reality of their lives. It highlights how, although people prioritise meeting their basic material needs, social participation is extremely important but can be restricted when budgets are limited. Having enough income is important to maintain independence, agency and provide security, although resources such as formal and informal human support, access to services, organisations and appropriate technology are also very valuable. Potential barriers to meeting needs include poor health, lack of access to local facilities, transport or technology, and lack of knowledge about services, support, benefits or registration. As well as personal future uncertainties, the research reveals visually impaired people’s concerns and insecurity in the context of austerity regarding reassessment of benefits, social care and potential cuts to services.