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The energy price cap and the devastating impact on families living with disabilities.

On the 2nd February, the UK energy regulator, Ofgem, announced a rise in its price cap. The record increase in global gas process will see an increase of 54% from the 1st April 2022, with the rising cost being driven by a rise is global gas prices over the last 6 months.

Under the new price cap, energy companies will be allowed to pass on the higher costs to their customers, which could have a devastating impact on many families.

Following the announcement, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak responded to the struggles faced by 28 million households by offering an Energy Bills Rebate. This will include offer all domestic energy customers an upfront discount of £200, which will be recouped over the next 5 years at £40 a year. From April, households in bands A-D will receive a £150 council tax rebate.

However, as we have discussed previously, for families living with disabilities, such as Pam and Mark Gleave (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-58711040), who need constantly heated homes, life-saving equipment and tend to do more wash loads of clothes and specialist equipment, the rebate is unlikely to go far enough, and the cost of increasing heating bills may lead to unnecessary stress, debt, and in some cases, worsened conditions.

Since the announcement, the disability equality charity in England and Wales, SCOPE, were inundated with people living with disabilities who are now facing impossible choices.

Research, which was shared on Channel 4 news on Friday 4th February, found that;

  • 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% 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, 48% said rising energy prices had a worsening effect on their long-standing health condition. 51% said their mental health had worsened as a result.

Equipment

For families living with a disability, the rise in energy prices could leave them struggling to meet energy bills which cover the cost of not only heating a home but running essential life-saving equipment.

Maintaining a constant, comfortable temperature in the home is necessary for people living with a disability, as they may find it hard to keep warm due to mobility issues. In the most serious cases, people living with catastrophic injuries such as a spinal cord injury, may be unable to regulate their own body temperature and will require a regulated temperature in the home at all times.

Families who are living with a disability are also more likely to have bigger than average energy bills, as they often do more washing due to continence issues, personal health regimes and home cleaning to reduce the risk of infection.

Aside from the usual costs of heating and running a home, those living with disabilities also have to factor in the cost of running numerous pieces of medical equipment. This can often include life support machines with back up batteries, lifts, profiling beds, hoists and countless pieces of assistive technology.

 

In a previous article, we looked at some of the adaptations that can be made to a home to make it more eco-friendly, this article can be viewed here.

For anyone who is worrying about the effects of the rising energy costs, they can contact Scope and speak to a member of their Disability Energy Support Service, which provides free energy and water advice to those living with disabilities.

 

Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels

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