Government Rejects Call For Increase In £150 Cost Of Living Payment To Disabled People

Tue,30 January 2024
News Benefits Money
In November 2023, the all-party Work And Pensions Committee of MPs published its report as to whether the Government’s one-off cost of living payments were meeting the objectives “to protect the most vulnerable” and to “provide vital support for those on the lowest incomes”.
The Committee found that while the cost-of-living support payments were welcome, they were insufficient to meet the scale of the problem and were just a short-term reprieve for many.

Among its findings were that the support payments did not provide a suitable level of support for groups who face additional costs during a cost-of-living crisis, such as Disabled people. 

For example, the MPs cited evidence such from Mencap that: “£150 has been inadequate. It has effectively just replaced the warm home discount payment that many disabled people received and are now ineligible for since 290,000 were removed from that scheme”.  

In addition, the payments were “equivalent to £2.88 per week, which is clearly not commensurate with the need” especially given the extra costs those with a disability face as they often require “certain foods” or have “significantly increased energy needs that they cannot reduce due to the fact these are often due to mobility and hygiene requirements.” 

As result, the Committee found that:  

  • it had not seen an adequate explanation for how £150 was determined as a suitable bridging payment for Disabled people. 
  • the Government should set out a detailed reasoning as to why a payment of this size was considered correct.  
  • should there be future cost of living payments, the Government should increase the financial support for those with disabilities in proportion to the additional costs that Disabled people incur. 

However, in its published response to the Committee, the Government has rejected this recommendation. 

It says that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) “… has provided 6.4 million Disabled people with a further £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment at a cost of £1 billion.  

“The Department estimates that over 2023/24 nearly 60% of individuals that receive a qualifying disability benefit will receive additional support through a means tested benefit payment, and over 85% will receive either or both of the means-tested and Pensioner Cost of Living Payment. 

“In setting the level of the Cost-of-Living Payments, the Government believes that it is right that the highest amount goes to those on means-tested benefits as those on the lowest incomes will be most vulnerable to rises in the cost of living.” 

However, in its response, the Government ignores the question of why the £150 was reasonable and why is it sufficient for those Disabled people not receiving a means tested benefit.  

 It also has not announced any plan to make a £150 payment this year. 

The Disability Poverty Campaign Group (DPCG) has written to Claire Coutinho the Secretary of State for Energy Security asking for urgent discussions between her Department and the DPCG. You can read the letter in full from the attachment at the bottom of this article.

In its letter, the DPCG says: “The government gave Disabled people a £150 payment to cope with the cost-of-living crisis in the autumn of 2022 and the summer of 2023.  

“However, it appears there are no further plans to help Disabled people who are twice as likely to live in poverty, and with the cancellation of the plans for an energy social tariff, and the news that Prepayment meters can once again be forced onto households struggling with fuel debt, the current decline of Disabled living standards becoming a human catastrophe. 

 “In the absence of stronger and better Government intervention and support, Disabled people are not able to use energy, and have been forced to turn off heating and limit the charging of health and mobility- related equipment. This is morally unacceptable and will inevitably lead to more ill health, risk to life and increased hospital admissions. Surely this is not acceptable. 

 “The House of Commons Energy Security and Net Zero Committee late last year estimated that there were 4,706 excess winter deaths in 2022/23 caused by living in a cold home in England, warning that another crisis is "inevitable" without further Government support for households.  We know that many Disabled people live in accommodation that is cold, as well as inaccessible and unusable. 

“We ask the Government to deliver a better, effective package of financial support for Disabled people and for those with higher energy bills due to disability related energy use. We also ask for the energy social tariff to be resurrected as a matter of urgency, following due consultation with not only utility firms but representatives from the Disabled community. 

 “The situation is bleak and desperate. We ask for urgent discussions between your Department and DPCG. We would welcome a meeting with you to share the concerns of Disabled people and to seek the needed solutions that would keep Disabled people safe, healthy, and independent this winter.” 

 For more information about available financial help see our Cost of Living Help resource.

Disability Poverty Campaign Group's Letter to the Secretary of State Energy Security and Net Zero