Out of Energy
We are calling on government to help families with disabled children with their extra energy costs and soaring household bills as a result of the cost of living crisis.
Finally on 26 May, the Chancellor announced a package of measures aimed at helping households with the cost of living crisis and soaring energy bills.
This follows months of tireless campaigning and media coverage by Contact and families. We would like to thank families, supporters and charity partners for backing our Out of Energy campaign. This will have contributed to getting disabled people recognised in such a high-profile announcement.
Why we’re campaigning
Families with disabled children reliant on life-saving electrical equipment are paying £600 a year more for their energy. This was before the April price cap increase.
And with families expecting to pay higher-than-average energy bills of more than £3,000 this year, 40% fear that the consequences — such as turning off heating and reducing the use of vital aids — will worsen their child’s condition.
“My son has multiple machines on charge every day – SATs monitors, suction machine, profiling bed, feeding pump, neb machine, air purifier, lights are on day and night as we have carers. I just can’t afford to carry on paying £300 per month, this is just too much. I don’t know what we are going to do.”Parent carer
On Friday 29 April the BBC exclusively revealed the findings from our Out of Energy survey on their new Access All podcast.
Based on responses from 5,499 families in March 2022, we found that:
- UK households with disabled children had average energy bills of £1,909 per year in the last 12 months – £600 more than the average household bill.
- During this winter, 42% went without heating and 10% went without vital electric-powered disability equipment because they were unaffordable to run.
- Families estimate they pay £74 per month to run disability aids and equipment, such as adjustable beds, ceiling track hoists, wheelchair chargers, feeding and suction pumps.
- From April, families with disabled children expect their annual energy bills to be more than £3,000 per year – almost double that of an average UK household.
Download the full survey report [PDF] and national/regional breakdown [.xlsx]
Watch Emma Foster from Wigan on BBC Breakfast and our Head of Campaign, Una Summerson talking about our Out of Energy findings.
Thank you to everyone who completed the survey. We really appreciate it.
What we want
We are calling on the Chancellor to recognise the extra costs facing disabled households in his response to the cost of living crisis.
In response to our Out of Energy findings, we are now calling on the government to:
- Covert the £200 energy rebate into a non-repayable grant for disabled households.
- The government to look again at proposed changes to the Warm Home Discount Scheme in July to ensure it helps more families who have higher than average bills due to disability. Currently, the changes do not take into account the impact of disability on energy costs.
- Increase disability benefits in line with current inflation rates of 8%. Although they were uprated in April, this was based on September 2021’s inflation figures. Due to a huge surge in inflation in recent months, families are actually getting a significant real terms cut in financial support.
“Our research found that 85% of families with disabled children use more energy due to their child’s condition. Essential equipment like ventilators, food pumps and hoists as well as more washing due to continence issues or more heating due to mobility issues all add up to bigger bills. And for many it would be dangerous to cut back on usage.
Families are left with impossible choices. Already this winter, almost half have gone without heating and one in 12 has gone without vital disability aids. Many are forced into unmanageable debt just to keep their kids safe. It was hugely disappointing that the Chancellor’s statement gave nothing to help disabled households cope with unprecedented soaring prices.”Amanda Batten, Contact CEO
What you can do
Thank you to everyone who signed our open letter to the Chancellor calling on his government to help disabled households with their extra energy bills and the cost of living crisis. This will have contributed to getting the Chancellor to announce a package of cost of living measures in May 2022 including an extra disability cost of living payment.
Alongside our open letter from families, we’ve also sent the Chancellor a letter from more than 50 other charities calling for more help.
Cost of living crisis: 6 things all families with disabled children can do now
Tuesday 22 February 2022
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