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Charities ask PM for more financial support

an energy bill
an energy bill Image credit: denbighshirefreepress.co.uk

Families of disabled children are asking the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, to help fund their energy bills so they can continue using lifesaving equipment in the home.

Last month the government announced it would support six million disabled families with an additional £150 payment to help towards the rising cost of living.

But eighty charities are campaigning for an Energy Assistance Payment of £300 in line with inflation.

A new energy cap of £2,500 a year has recently been introduced, although support charity Contact say families with disabled members face bills over £4,000 to cover the cost of ventilators and oxygen saturation machines.

On August 26, 83 charities including Contact, Scope and Together for Short Lives wrote to Liz Truss and her party rival Rishi Sunak calling for an emergency package for vulnerable families, but to date they have not had a response.

On Friday September 10, they appealed again to Prime Minister Liz Truss to increase disability benefits as soon as possible in addition to the energy assistance payment to replace local NHS medical grants.

Amanda Batten, CEO of Contact, says: “While the latest announcement represents a welcome package of support, it does not address the extra energy costs families with disabled children face due to running lifesaving equipment. These costs have rocketed since the April price cap increase. Families pay nearly £1,600 extra per year on running life-saving and other health-related equipment that can’t be switched off.

“An immediate increase in disability benefits, as well as an energy assistance payment, will help ensure those who need vital equipment for their survival are given the financial help they need.”

Stephen Kingdom, of the Disabled Children’s Partnership – a coalition of 100 organisations – said: “Disabled children and their families were more likely to live in poverty even before the energy rises. Parents have to give up work to care and manage hospital appointments. They often have to pay for therapies or medical and educational support that authorities fail to provide. Add to this increased energy costs and that piles even more pressure on families whose lives are difficult any way. They must have increased disability benefits and energy assistance.” James Taylor, of disability equality charity Scope, said: “The cost of charging a powered wheelchair has doubled in a year. Spiralling costs have already left many disabled households in debt and on the brink.

“Life costs more if you are disabled. Government support needs to be better targeted – and increased.”

In August, it was announced the Ofgem energy price cap would rise to £3,549 from October.