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Cost of Living Guide

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With bills and the cost of food rising by unprecedented amounts, the UK’s cost of living crisis is making things difficult for all of us. Having diabetes can make daily life trickier, and it’s understandable to feel stressed during these uncertain times.

We’ve put together a guide explaining some of the support you may be entitled to, as well as signposting to other useful resources.

Financial Support

Benefits

You may be entitled to disability benefits depending on factors such as where you live, your age, the severity of your diabetes alongside any other complications that impact your daily life. For instance, if you have mobility issues due to diabetic neuropathy, you may be entitled to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

If you are over 65 and are physically or mentally disabled, you could also apply for Attendance Allowance. As it is not means tested, Attendance Allowance is based upon the care or supervision you need to live safely.

VAT Exemption

As someone with diabetes, you are eligible for VAT exemption on some diabetes products, including blood glucose monitors, test strips and other related  items.

Free prescriptions

You are entitled to free prescriptions if you live in England and take medication or insulin to help manage your diabetes.

Check your eligibility for a medical exemption certificate here.

If you want to apply for free NHS prescriptions, speak to your doctor or GP.

Those who live in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are already exempt from paying for prescriptions regardless of whether they take medications.

Life insurance

In these difficult times paying for life insurance might seem the least of your priorities. However, life insurance provides you with the peace of mind that should something happen to you, your family and loved ones are looked after.

If you have diabetes, you might be concerned about the costs associated with life insurance. We’ve partnered with the UK’s top specialists in diabetes life insurance to help you compare quotes and find the right policy for you.

For further financial support, speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau either at your local office or find more information at:  www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Diabetes Technology

Adults with Type 1 Diabetes

As of August 2022, people with type 1 diabetes are eligible for a free Dexcom One Continuous Glucose Monitor. This service is currently being rolled out across GP surgeries throughout England.

Additionally, NICE guidelines indicate that people over 18 in England and Wales should be offered a CGM or a Freestyle Libre. If you are pregnant and have type 1 diabetes, you are also entitled to a CGM. A Freestyle Libre is also available for adults with type 1 diabetes living in Scotland, although there is no guidance on using other CGMs.

Insulin pumps should be made available to adults in England and Wales if they cannot reach their target HbA1c level without having severe hypos or if their HbA1c stays high despite diabetes management. The same criteria apply if you are living in Scotland.

Those living in Northern Ireland should check their eligibility with their healthcare team.

Children with Type 1 Diabetes

According to NICE guidelines, children in Wales and England under 18 should be offered a CGM to help with their diabetes management. Children under 18 in Scotland are entitled to a Freestyle Libre as per national guidance.

Speak to your healthcare team if your child is under 18 and lives in Northern Ireland.

Insulin pumps may be recommended for children under 12 in England or Wales. NICE guidelines indicate that this is in circumstances where insulin injections are not practical or appropriate.

According to NICE guidelines, children in England and Wales who are 12 and over should be offered a pump if they cannot get to their target HbA1c level without having severe hypos or if their HbA1c stays high despite diabetes management. As per national guidance, the same criteria apply to children in Scotland.

If your child lives in Northern Ireland, consult your healthcare team for further information on insulin pump eligibility.

Adults with Type 2 Diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, live in England or Wales and use insulin medication to manage your condition, you may be entitled to a Freestyle Libre. This is dependent on factors such as the frequency of your hypoglycaemic episodes, if you have impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia, or your ability to self-monitor your blood glucose levels is impaired.

People with a learning disability living in England and Wales who use insulin are entitled to a Freestyle Libre to aid in blood glucose monitoring.

For those living in Scotland, the national guidelines recommend a Freestyle Libre if you have to take four or more insulin injections a day.

Eating on a Budget

Eating a healthy diet is part of good diabetes management, but the cost of living crisis has made this harder than ever.

Unfortunately, the cheapest food is often the unhealthiest option, and when money is tight, this can seem like our only option.

Take a look at our guide to eating healthy on a budget and learn some of the ways you can save money while you shop.

While you’re at it, if you’re after culinary inspiration, look no further than our recipe books, which are free to download when you sign up to the Diabetes Community forum.

Looking after your mental health

It’s normal to feel stressed every now and again, but feelings of uncertainty, especially when it comes to finances, can be particularly straining. Unfortunately, stress can impact blood sugar levels, which in some people causes a rise in blood glucose, while others may see their glucose levels drop.

Sometimes stress can affect diabetes because of the way it can lead to poor blood glucose control. Individuals may neglect a healthy lifestyle and take up bad habits such as not exercising or consuming junk food, which will directly impact their blood sugar levels. However, the stress hormone cortisol also increases the amount of sugar in the blood.

We’ve put together a quick guide on some of the ways you can better manage stress or find out more about emotional eating and stopping food cravings.

Support from the Diabetes Community

With over 350,000 members, the Forum is the world’s largest diabetes community and is a great place to visit if you have any diabetes-related questions, are looking for support, or even just want a chat.

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