Government failing disabled people who are ‘on the brink of a disaster due to cost of living crisis, says charity
Scope is calling for the government to offer direct financial support to disabled people immediately
The government is failing disabled people over the cost of living and energy crisis, a charity has said.
Disability equality charity Scope warned that lives are at risk as disabled people fear they will be unable to afford to heat their homes this winter. This comes amid uncertainty over whether the government will commit to its promise to increase benefits in line with inflation.
The charity released the results of a recent poll of 1,000 disabled adults, which found that 63% were worried about being able to pay their heating bills. This proportion rose to 72% when it came to those who are eligible for the government’s £650 cost of living payment, which will go to those on means-tested benefits, such as universal credit.
The poll also found that 48% of respondents will not be able to cover all their energy bills and essentials, 51% are concerned about affording food, and just 13% said they feel supported by the government’s support package. Meanwhile, 60% of respondents said they feel the government is ignoring them.
Scope said it is calling for the government to offer direct financial support immediately as its helplines have also been hearing from disabled people already having to take drastic action to cut energy use.
James Taylor, director of strategy at Scope, said: “Our findings clearly show that the support put forward so far doesn’t touch the sides and that not increasing benefits in line with inflation would be truly devastating.
“There can be no doubt we are in a life-or-death situation. We are on the brink of a disaster where many disabled people can’t afford the energy they need to stay alive and face getting cut off.”
Mr Taylor said that disabled people feel they are “seen as expendable” by the government, adding: “What kind of a government does nothing as disabled people are at risk of freezing and starving to death?”
Tom Marsland, policy manager at the charity, added: “Energy costs have doubled in a year. Our Disability Energy Service has been inundated with calls from disabled people who have cut back everything they can. They’re taking drastic actions like skipping meals, cutting back on washing and turning off fridges, and it’s still not enough.”
The charity is now calling on the government to uprate all benefits in line with true inflation, provide another £325 cost of living payment for those on lowest incomes, double the £150 disability cost of living payment, and create a social tariff for disabled customers.
Mr Marsland added: “And while bills continue to rocket we need to see targeted support for disabled people. The government should also double the disability payment and provide another cost of living payment to those on the lowest incomes.”
A Government spokesman said: “We know that living with a long-term illness or disability can impact on living costs, which is why we are supporting six million disabled people with an extra £150 payment.
“This is part of the £37 billion package of support, which will see eight million low-income households receiving at least £1,200 in support this year, including £650 in direct cost of living payments and all households will also receive a £400 discount on their energy bills.”