Cost of living crisis

Energy bills, food bills, care costs, inflation. They’re all rising. That means disabled people are running out of choices.

We can’t choose a cheaper tariff.

We can’t move to a cheaper flat.

We can’t turn off our nebulisers or our dialysis machines.

We can’t choose a cheaper bus fare to the hospital.

Disabled people are being hit the hardest in this cost of living crisis and, so far, government help has not been sufficient.

I am genuinely worried about the cost of the winter to come. People make out it's as simple as not putting the heating on. But when you factor in daily charging of wheelchairs and other factors it's a crippling cost.

Calling for an energy social tariff

The Government said they would consult with groups on introducing an energy social tariff. But they have not stuck to this promise.

The Government is still failing disabled people. There needs to be a longer term solution to support disabled people on low incomes who have high living costs.

Join our call for an equal future

Earlier this year, with Age UK, we called on the Government to introduce an energy social tariff. This would give disabled people, older people, and carers who are facing high energy costs discounted energy bills.

58,000 people signed our open letter. We handed it in to the Government on 9 March 2023, ahead of the Spring Budget.

Read our open letter

We also joined 143 other organisations in an open letter calling for a social tariff consultation.

This included:

  • National Energy Action (NEA)
  • Age UK
  • Money Saving Expert

The call received wide news coverage from the BBC and Sky News.

Read the open letter on NEA’s website.

What has the Government done for disabled people?

Not enough.

They’ve failed to take the first step towards implementing an energy social tariff.

On top of that, they have:

  • changed the Warm Home Discount eligibility criteria, meaning many disabled people will miss out
  • ended the Energy Bills Support Scheme, which gave every household a £400 discount on their energy bills last winter
  • increased their negative rhetoric against people who claim benefits.

What can the Government do?

The Government announced some support in their 2022 Autumn Budget due to pressure from Scope campaigners. But it did not go far enough.

We’re telling Rishi Sunak, Jeremy Hunt, and Claire Coutinho that they must offer more support to disabled people.

This winter: short term asks

  • Urgently launch the promised Government consultation on an energy social tariff.
  • Expand the eligibility criteria for the £300 cost of living payments. So that disabled households in receipt of contribution based or new style ESA are eligible.
  • Deliver an additional disability cost of living payment of £150 to people in receipt of non-means tested benefits.

Medium term asks

  • Reinstate the Warm Home Discount for the 300,000 disabled people who lost this vital support due to changes in eligibility criteria. Including people in receipt of legacy benefits and PIP.
  • Ban forced installations of pre-payment meters (PPMs) for all households where a disabled person is present.
  • Explore a PPM amnesty. So that all disabled households with a PPM have the opportunity to have it uninstalled, and receive adequate compensation.
  • Maintain and extend the Energy Price Guarantee for disabled households beyond March 2024. Until the Government introduce an energy social tariff.

Long term asks

  • Introduce a Government funded energy social tariff for disabled households.

Read our Cost of Living report online

What has Scope done so far?

We understand how tough this crisis is. We understand how worried you are. We’ve been working hard to influence the Government’s actions since this crisis began.

With your help:

  • Called for an energy social tariff. 58,000 campaigners signed our open letter with Age UK which we delivered in March 2023.
  • Gathered evidence from disabled people and their families on rising energy bills, and how the cost of living crisis affects them.
  • Joined 143 other organisations in October 2023, including National Energy Action, Age UK and Money Saving Expert, in an open letter calling for a social tariff consultation. This received wide news coverage, such as from the BBC, and Sky News. Read the open letter on NEA’s website.
  • Got the Government to ban forced installation of pre-payment meters for disabled people in November 2023.
  • Alongside disabled campaigners and other charities, got the Government to increase benefits in line with inflation in April 2023.
  • Organised events for disabled people to speak directly to the Government. This makes sure MPs understand the urgency of the cost of living crisis.
  • we’ve shared stories in the media such as a Channel 4 News interview with Scope Ambassador Shani Dhanda, and Scope Storyteller Ajay in the Evening Standard.

We are here to support you

We know that these are difficult times. If you are feeling worried or isolated our teams are available to discuss your situation and suggest ways you can access support.

Anyone can contact our free helpline for impartial information and advice.

Our Disability Energy Support service can help you manage your energy and water needs and may be able to save you money too. We have saved disabled people around £1 million on their bills over the last year.

If you want to talk about your experiences with other disabled people, our online community is a space to share how you’re feeling with people that understand what you’re going through.

We also have lots of resources online with advice and support.

All disabled people should have access to a financial safety net that lets us live with dignity.