Sight Loss Shropshire has joined Visionary members and other charities in calling for urgent action to support people with living sight loss and other disabilities as the cost of living crisis continues.
The day of action on social media (15 November) aimed to highlight to the Chancellor the huge impact of the ongoing cost of living crisis is having on people with living with sight loss.
The campaign, reaching of 5.5 million on the day, called for urgent support including uplifting benefits at least in line with inflation and consulting on an energy social tariff – needed more than ever as we start another winter.
The letter is featured below:
Joint sector letter to the Chancellor
15 November 2023
Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Joint letter from the disability sector calling for urgent support with the cost of living for disabled people
We are a group of 75 national and regional disability and sight loss charities united in our mission to support disabled people, and people with long term conditions.
We are writing to you to call for urgent action in the Autumn Statement to support disabled households through the ongoing cost of living crisis, in recognition that disabled people have been disproportionately affected by the cost of living.
We are acutely aware that the cost of living crisis has not gone away. As we approach a second winter, the situation will only get worse. Disabled people continue to be at the sharpest end, facing the double blow of low incomes and unavoidable higher costs for heating, eating, transport and other essentials.
Too many disabled people and their families are already at breaking point.
Scope research has found that on average disabled households face extra costs of £975 per month, including the cost of specialist equipment and higher energy use. Meanwhile half of blind and partially sighted people are using their disability benefits to pay for every day living costs, rather than the additional costs associated with their sight loss.
It’s vital that benefits are set at a level that means disabled people can afford the essentials. This means being able to put food on the table, heat their home, and charge vital equipment. Too often we hear that benefits, including disability benefits, fall woefully short.
Sense research found that 68 per cent of disabled people are worried they’ll have to skip meals to cope this winter, and 58 per cent fear they’ll be forced to take out loans.
Laura, who has MS and two sons with autism, explains:
‘Because of the MS, I can’t get too cold or I get ill. Having the heating on during the winter is a total non-negotiable for me. Otherwise, my symptoms get so bad that I can’t move, I’m slower and I’m at much higher risk of falling.’
We are alarmed and deeply concerned the 2022 Autumn Statement commitment to make energy support more targeted to those who most need it has not been delivered for disabled people. Meanwhile the warmer months have not provided enough respite for disabled household budgets. Equipment and services are needed throughout the year, and debt and worry has continued to build up for many.
As a sector we feel let down that the UK Government has not launched a consultation on an energy social tariff. A discounted energy tariff would protect disabled households struggling with their energy bills from price increases.
We write to you today to call for:
- All benefits to be uprated at least in line with inflation in the Autumn Statement, as is the norm.
- A UK Government review of how benefits are set and increased, so people can always afford the essentials, and manage the extra costs that come with disability.
- Additional Winter financial support targeted at disabled households with higher energy costs.
- Consultation on an energy social tariff under the UK Government’s commitment to develop a new approach to consumer protection in energy markets.
- All support to be promoted and communicated in accessible formats, including in BSL and easy read, and compatible with screen reading and magnification software, and to be available at the same time as mainstream formats.
- 4 Sight Vision Support
- Action for Kids (AFK)
- Affinity Trust
- Berkshire Vision
- Blind Veterans UK
- Bury Society for Blind and Partially Sighted People
- Camphill Village Trust
- Choice Support
- Chrysalis Housing
- Community Integrated Care
- Croydon Mencap
- David Lewis
- Devon in Sight
- Dimensions UK
- East Cheshire Eye Society
- Fight for Sight / Vision Foundation
- Forth Valley Sensory Centre
- Glaucoma UK
- Golden Lane Housing
- Grace Eyre
- Guide Dogs
- Headway East London
- Imagine Act and Succeed
- Imagine Independence
- Jewish Blind & Disabled
- Kent Association for the Blind
- Learning Disability England
- Learning Disability London
- Leonard Cheshire
- Macular Society
- Making Space
- MySight York
- MyVision Oxfordshire
- New Prospects Association
- One Fylde
- Papworth Trust
- Retina UK
- Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC)
- Sensory Services by Sight for Surrey
- Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind
- Sight Loss Shropshire
- Sight Support Derbyshire
- Sight Support West of England
- St Anne’s
- St Elizabeth’s
- Sutton Vision
- The Northam Care Trust
- Thomas Pocklington Trust
- Together Trust
- Turning Point
- United Response
- Vision Support
- Vision Support Barrow and District
- Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG)
- Your Support Matters CIC
and 10 additional Visionary members.
Sight Loss Shropshire is proud to take part in this national campaign and we believe by working together with partner organisations, we can make an impactful difference for people living with disabilities.