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Thousands of disabled people to lose energy bill discounts

energy bill update displayed on a mobile phone
energy bill update displayed on a mobile phone Image credit:

The government will be stopping thousands of disability benefits which go towards keeping disabled people warm in their homes.

Warm Home Discounts are set aside for people who receive Personal Independent Payments [PIP], Disability Living Allowance [DLA] and AA benefits.

Under the scheme energy providers are paid by the government, the money is then handed out as £140 [which will increase to £150 later this year] discounts to go towards household bills.

At the beginning of April it was announced 210,000 people would no longer be eligible for the benefit, this week the number rose to 29,000.

The news has been criticised by disability charity Scope who are urging the government to rethink their decision.

To add confusion the government has announced it will increase the number of disabled people who can claim the discount from 2,250,000 to 3million and extend the scheme until 2026 – but 290,000 people will not be eligible for the payment under the confirmed plans.

A government document states that while the "overall proportion of recipients with a long term illness or disability reduces under the proposed reforms, it is still higher than the proportion of fuel poor with a disability, and the proportion of the overall population with a disability".

Louise Rubin, head of policy and campaigns for Scope, said: "This move is an insult to those disabled people who have already been cutting back for months.

“Amid the worst cost of living crisis in decades, it’s almost unfathomable that the government will cut support for rising energy bills from nearly 300,000 disabled people.

“Life costs more if you’re disabled. Our energy helpline is now overwhelmed with calls from disabled people who are already facing sky-high energy bills, and do not know how they will afford to charge vital equipment, or stay warm, as the crisis goes on.

“At a time when we are facing a real terms cut to benefits, it’s critical that the government reverse this decision.”

A spokesperson for the department for business, energy and industrial strategy said: "Our reforms to the Warm Home Discount scheme will prioritise those households who are most likely to struggle to heat their homes. It is a fuel poverty scheme and we are increasing both the number and amount of fuel poor households that can benefit from it.

“The discount is just one measure we are taking to help tackle rising energy costs. Our energy price cap continues to insulate households from volatile gas markets, and we are also providing a £200 reduction on bills this autumn and a £150 non-repayable reduction in Council Tax bills.”

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