Disabled people need more than ‘pitiful’ £150 cost of living payment

National association of disabled people’s organisations back Plaid Cymru call for more cost-of-living support.

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Plaid Cymru’s Work and Pensions spokesperson, Hywel Williams MP, and Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, have urged the UK Government to provide a cost-of-living payment for disabled people which “reflects the extra costs they face in daily life and the impact of the energy crisis”, a call supported by Welsh disabled people’s organisation Disability Wales.

People in receipt of disability benefits such as the Personal Independence Payment and the Disability Living Allowance are only eligible for the “pitiful” sum of £150.

People in receipt of other benefits are eligible for a £650 Cost of Living Payment. Plaid Cymru say that, given the higher level of energy use by disabled people, the eligibility criteria for the £650 payment should be revised to include those in receipt of disability benefits.

Alexandra Osborne of Disability Wales supported the calls and said that their organisation have received reports of disabled people reducing the time the heating is on which is “having a negative effect on the disabled person as their impairments or health conditions worsen in cold homes”.

In their letter, Hywel Williams MP and Ben Lake MP said: “People in receipt of disability benefits such as the Personal Independence Payment and the Disability Living Allowance are only eligible for the pitiful sum of £150.

“Many disabled people require a higher level of energy use than the average household due to relying on life-saving equipment such as wheelchairs and ventilators.

“Many also suffer from conditions that requires staying warm and frequently washing clothes and bedding.

“Using less energy is simply not an option for many disabled people.

“People receiving New Style Employment and Support Allowance, contributory Employment and Support Allowance, or New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance, are also excluded from the Cost of Living Payment.

“There is no justification for this decision by the Government. We therefore call on you to urgently revise the eligibility criteria for this payment and ensure that disabled people receive a cost-of-living payment which reflects the extra costs they face in daily life and the impact of the energy crisis.

“Failing to do so would mean sitting on your hands while disabled people struggle to choose between eating or continuing to use life-saving equipment.”

Alexandra Osborne, Disability Equality Officer at Disability Wales added: “The increasing cost of energy in the UK is very concerning to us.

“Disabled people often need to use more energy in their homes than non-disabled, they may also be unable to regulate their body temperature and require heating to be on constantly. This can be to charge required equipment such as electric wheelchairs and oxygen machines.

“Many disabled people are already cutting back on their energy use where they can, however they are very worried how they will manage to pay their bills after the next energy cap increase.

“We’ve had reports of disabled people reducing the time heating is on which is having a negative effect on the disabled person as their impairments or health conditions worsen in cold homes.

“We feel disabled people should receive a cost of living payment to reflect the extra costs disabled people face in daily life and the impact of the energy crisis.”

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