What do the new cost of living payments mean for disabled people

Gemma Hope

'Timely, but temporary and not targeted enough' - Gemma Hope, Director of Policy, takes a further look at the government's cost of living announcement.

Grace, Change 100 intern, working from her garden

As disabled people continue to feel the weight of the current cost of living crisis, we’ve been waiting desperately to hear from the Government on just how they plan to tackle the issue. And we can’t wait any longer.

So, while it was a relief to hear the Chancellor finally announcing some plans to offer support – did it go far enough?

Does the support go far enough?

The short answer is no. While we certainly welcome the measures announced today, the truth of the matter is they really only offer short term solutions to a long-term problem. The reality is that over half a million disabled people are already living off just £10 a week after bills.

And when you take into account impending energy price increases later this year, and the fact that thousands of disabled people are set to lose their Warm Home Discount in the Autumn, already stretched budgets will have to go even further.

It just isn’t viable.

Choosing between heating and eating

We’re already hearing from disabled people that they’re facing impossible choices between heating and eating – and this will only get more dire in the winter months. While today’s package goes some way towards alleviating pressures, we need to see more continued support for those that need it most.

On the surface, a one off £650 payment for people on lower incomes (including claimants of ESA and JSA) would certainly go towards essentials. But not everyone is eligible for this. Disabled people on non-means tested benefits, like PIP and DLA, are only entitled to £150.

This will barely make a dent in the rising costs of food and energy – not to mention the additional costs that come with having a disability in the first place.

A one-off payment really is just a drop in the ocean for a problem that is not going away. A problem that will ultimately cost lives.

Losing race against inflation

And we can’t ignore the fact that the government actually removed the £20 uplift to Universal Credit in September last year, amounting to over £1,000 per year per person. So, while the one-off payment is welcome, it’s really only a step in making up for what was already lost.

What we really need to see is all benefits (both means tested and non-means tested) keeping in pace with the rapidly rising costs of living. Because at the moment, disabled people are facing a losing race against inflation. While the Chancellor did make efforts to recognise the fact that disabled people need additional support, he missed the opportunity to make a real, long-lasting impact.

One size doesn't fit all

A ‘one size fits all’ approach to energy bills simply doesn’t cut it. Universally everyone is getting £400 towards bills, which is great, but we need to see separate targeted support for disabled people, many of whom rely on energy to help manage their conditions and simply cannot ‘cut back’.

And when you think about it, a one-off payment really is just a drop in the ocean for a problem that is not going away. A problem that will ultimately cost lives.

The government needs to do more

Disabled people are telling us they are scared and out of solutions.

We all believe the government must immediately increase benefits to reflect the real cost of living. Do you?

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