The hidden cost of disability
In essence, any cost that is incurred as a direct result of someone’s disability should be considered disability-related expenditure. To use a very abstract example, if a carer drinks coffee and eats some custard cream biscuits to get an energy boost to support a disabled person at night this could be considered DRE, as the cost would not have been incurred if not for the fact a person had a disability.
The local authority might consider that drinking economy coffee and shop brand Custard Creams would have sufficed, rather than the luxury brands that were actually chosen to be consumed; if this were the case it would be reasonable to expect that the cost of the cheaper alternative to be disregarded as income that could be used towards social care contributions.
The key point to remember is that if the person did not have a disability the expense would not keep being incurred. If someone choose to buy new clothes then arguably they have made a choice to spend money and this would be paid using their income, not by taking this from their social care contributions; however, if a person with autism habitually ribs their clothing then the need for new clothes is not a choice, it is a cost relating to their needs, and so an allowance should be allowed as disability-related expenditure.
The local authority would expect evidence of spend, such as receipts covering a number of months; if these have not been collected then DRE could still be requested by offering to provide the receipts over the next few months so that some level of calculation is possible.
It would be expected that a person would contribute equally towards household costs, so submitting a gas bill and hoping that the full cost will be disregarded would be highly optimistic; there would also be some expectation that some costs would have occurred regardless of a person’s needs. For example, if a person feels the cold because of their condition, or is incontinent so requires extra clothing to be washed, it would be unrealistic that the full cost of heating and laundry would be disregarded, as it is only the additional costs incurred to meet disability-related need that would be taken into account.