Why the Government’s response to the energy price cap doesn’t go far enough.

Following yesterday's whirlwind day of announcement’s relating to energy bills, the dust is beginning to settle on what this will mean for disabled people over the coming months.

Yesterday, the energy regulator, Ofgem, announced a rise in its price cap which will see average energy bills increase by 54 per cent in April. The cap is the maximum rate suppliers can charge for energy on a default tariff.

Shortly after, the government announced a range of measures to support people, including a £150 council tax rebate for some households, and a one-off £200 discount on bills which must be repaid over the next 5 years.

The extent of the cost-of-living crisis.

Here at Scope, we've seen the devastating impact surging energy bills are having on disabled people and their families. Our Disability Energy Support service and website have been inundated by disabled people facing impossible choices, with nowhere else to turn.

Our research, released today and aired on Channel 4 News this evening (Friday 4th Feb) found:

  • Disabled people were more than twice as likely to be unable to heat their home
  • Disabled people were 3 times as likely to not have been able to afford food
  • 76 per cent of disabled people who have seen rising living costs have had to tighten their belts and cut household spending
  • Among disabled people whose living costs had increased over the past 3 months, half (48 per cent) said rising prices had a worsening effect on their long-standing health condition, with a similar proportion (51 per cent) said their mental health had worsened as a result

For people like Jean, this means facing the impossible choice of missing meals or staying cold. She says: I need to keep my home warm to stop the arthritic-type pain in my joints which is one of my most disabling symptoms. To keep warm, I have to spend all day in bed. I have two duvets and four blankets, so I can change how many layers I am under depending on how cold I feel. Because of rising energy prices, I can only afford to eat one meal a day."

Read Jean's full story

Is this support enough for disabled people?

We’ve warned that this support package is nowhere near enough to stop many disabled people being pushed into poverty. Targeted support for disabled households is urgently needed before the soaring cost-of-living becomes unmanageable.

Before the crisis, disabled people already faced hundreds of pounds in extra living costs each month. One factor in this is energy usage, with disabled people using more energy to keep warm and power vital equipment.

Council tax and energy bill rebates won’t cover the extreme costs hitting disabled people, and only delay the impact of this crisis.

These proposals simply don’t go far enough, particularly for the millions of disabled households in poverty. We've written to the Prime Minister to outline some of the steps needed to ensure that disabled people aren't left behind. Targeting support through the benefits system, and expanding and increasing schemes such as the Warm Home Discount and Household Support Fund, would be a much better way to help disabled families who are having to make impossible financial choices.

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