Campaigners are urging the government to provide an energy grant for people with a disability or serious medical condition ahead of the price cap rise in April.
The petition was started by Rachel Curtis, who is the founder of Northern Lights, a community project that aims to support families who have a child with a disability.
An “impossible situation”
In a blog post for We Are Carers, Rachel says that millions of disabled people and carers will be facing “an impossible situation” from April, when the cost of energy bills are set to skyrocket.
She explains that people with disabilities or serious medical conditions often use more energy as they are reliant on specialist medical equipment to fulfil their basic needs.
For example, many disabled people need to power their mobility equipment (such as electric wheelchairs, stair lifts, bath seats), while others with serious medical conditions may need to use a ventilator or electric pumps to feed through a tube.
Millions of disabled people and cares were already struggling financially
Rachel writes that millions of disabled people and carers were already struggling financially due to the “discriminatory system that forces carers into poverty, coupled with the cost of living rising and our government increasing outgoings like our council tax.”
While the government has raised the Carer’s Allowance, it is only by £2 a week, taking it to a total of £69.70. She adds this increase is meaningless for families who claim Universal Credit (UC), as this Carer’s Allowance is deducted from UC, leaving some households worse off than they previously were.
For this reason, since the announcement of the energy price cap rise, Rachel says there has been a “huge outpouring of fear and anxiety” from disabled people and carers about how they are going to afford to pay their bills.
The government must “help people afford to stay alive”
To ensure people with disabilities can afford to pay their bills, Rachel says the Government must provide a grant for people for the most vulnerable, so they can afford to run their equipment and heat their home, in order to stay alive.
She emphasises that it is not just a case of ‘wearing an extra jumper’, but rather the fulfilment of basic human needs, such as eating, sleeping, breathing and moving around the house.
“It is not right that people living with conditions that require energy should be punished for it, and sometimes face unmanageable debts with energy companies. What a horrendous situation to face. If some people don't run their ventilator, CPAP machine or feeding pump they will die. Our Government must help people afford to stay alive,” she said.