Help Disabled people survive surging energy bills
Why this is important?
In May, the former Chancellor announced a package of 'cost of living payments' to help people who are struggling the most with surging energy and food bills. Unfortunately, very little of this funding was targeted at disabled people, even though disabled people face higher energy bills than non-disabled people, because we often need to run the heating more (to cope with lower mobility or prevent severe illness due to weakened immune systems) and to charge essential medical and mobility equipment.
This means the increases in energy costs hit us harder than many others. Disabled People's Organisations are currently seeing members who have annual energy bills above £6,000, with increases already this year of over £1,000 - and we recently learned that energy bills will leap again in October. Despite this, people receiving the flagship benefits targeted at helping disabled people to cover the extra costs of living with disability (PIP, DLA, and Attendance Allowance) will receive only £150 extra from the former Chancellor's package.
Poverty among Disabled people is a massive and growing problem. Over a decade of cuts in government social provision has left many Disabled people without access to essentials and caused or contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths.
- Half of all people living in poverty are either Disabled people themselves or have a Disabled person in their household.
- More than half of people who use food banks are Disabled people.
- Social care charging means Disabled people have to pay out of their pockets for essential care, despite often having very low incomes.
This is an ongoing disaster that small one-off payments cannot solve. We urgently need a systematic solution.
What we are calling for?
We are calling for a thorough reassessment of social security support for disabled people, to end the appalling levels of poverty in our community. This should include introducing the following policies:
- An emergency uprating of benefits, which should come into effect in Autumn. This should at least match inflation, bringing the 2022 increase to 10% or higher.
- Make social care free at the point of use. Until this is implemented, ensure that the ‘Minimum Income Guarantee’, which sets the amount of money disabled people must be left with after care charges, increases at the same rate as overall benefits.
- Review the sufficiency of benefits levels, including the ‘extra costs benefits’ (PIP, DLA, and AA) designed to cover the additional costs of living with disability, which currently provide far too little support.
- Reform the benefit system to make the process easier, faster, and supportive rather than oppressive.
- Amend the new eligibility criteria for the Warm Home Discount so that they once again take into account disabled people’s extra energy costs.
- Ensure all family carers are in receipt of Carers Allowance and increase the allowance to ensure it is at least equivalent to minimum wage.
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