Campaigners call on Government to provide more financial support to Disabled people

Thu,25 May 2023
News Benefits Equality & Rights
A parliamentary debate on Cost-of-Living payments for Disabled People recently took place, after over 40,000 people signed petitions set up by campaigners Rachel Curtis and Abigail Broomfield.

The next government disability cost of living payment is again £150 and will be paid to around six million people in summer 2023. Many people who are eligible for the £150 payment will also be eligible for a £900 cost-of-living payment, which is going out to people on certain means-tested benefits, including Universal Credit.

Rachel Curtis, a full-time carer to her daughter Betsy raised her petition – entitled ‘Provide an energy grant to people with a disability or serious medical condition' alongside another by Disabled student Abigail Broomfield, which was entitled ‘Make people on disability benefits eligible for the £650 one off payment'.

Disability Rights UK, and Inclusion London met with Marsha De Cordova MP, a member of the Petitions Committee who led the debate, to brief her on the current financial situation for Disabled people, explaining that poverty is increasing in the Disabled community while energy and food prices continue to rise and benefits remain low.

Although debates are only usually granted when petitions reach 100,000 signatures or more, Ms De Cordova asked to open a debate on the issue stating that the Petitions Committee had launched an additional survey on cost-of-living payments where 10,854 people had responded.

Speaking at the debate, which included the Minister for Disabled people Tom Pursglove, Ms Cordova said: “In response to the ongoing cost of living emergency and energy crisis, 93% of respondents (to the survey) have had to limit their use of energy, 76% are limiting their use of transport, and 60% have limited their use of specialist equipment. Over half have had to reduce their use of medication.”

“It is a fact that disabled people incur extra costs. Scope's latest disability price tag report found that the average disabled household faces an extra £975 a month in costs. The Resolution Foundation found that the gap in household income between adults with a disability and adults without a disability was 30%.

“Government support has barely scratched the surface. The paltry support is woefully insufficient and the very definition of what we would call sticking-plaster politics. Of the disabled people surveyed who received the £150 cost of living payment, 80% said that it would not be enough to cover their increased costs for essentials.”

Calling for change, Ms Cordova added: “We need a wholesale review of social security but, more importantly, the Government should commit, as Labour has done, to fully incorporate the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, so that we are protecting their civil and human rights.”

Campaigner Rachel Curtis said, “There is a whole raft of equipment disabled people need to help them live their daily life and very little help to pay for the electricity to run it,"

"The only machine you can get an energy rebate for is an oxygen concentrator. The cost of running everything else - stairlifts, hoists, dialysis machines, monitors - must be met by the person who is relying on these things to improve their quality of life, or in extreme cases, keep them alive. That's not right.

"People claiming Personal Independence Payments (PIP) got an additional £150 last year, which although was good because it acknowledged that people with disabilities can have higher energy costs, it bore no resemblance to the costs that were being incurred. Some equipment such as ventilators or pressure pads may have to be run 24 hours a day and people are struggling to afford the cost.”

Dan white policy and campaigns officer at DR UK and one of the leads at the Disability Poverty Campaign Group said “Disabled people are disproportionately impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. Living with a disability often means extra costs such as spending more money on energy, food, and medicine. To keep our homes warm, power essential health and mobility equipment, and meet the spiralling cost of food, leaves millions of us without enough for essentials.”

“Another round of cost-of-living payments is of course welcome, but unfortunately the amount is woefully inadequate.”

 “What the government should be doing is commissioning an annual independent assessment of the level of benefits because they are far too low to meet Disabled people’s needs.”

For info on cost-of-living payments visit the Government website.