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Joint sector letter to the Chancellor

Published on 15 Nov 2023

Today we’re joining together with 75 other charities to urge the Chancellor to provide urgent support in the Autumn Statement for those living with sight loss and other disabilities. You can read our letter below.

Imagine having to choose between staying warm, feeding your family, or powering essential equipment. This is the reality for many people with sight loss.

Earlier this year we told you about blind veteran Margaret in Devon, who spent seven years in the British Army and lost her sight later in life to glaucoma.

Her electric bills had skyrocketed by nearly 300% and with no savings, and debts spiralling, she was struggling to put food on the table and pay for the carers that look after her on a daily basis.

Since then, due to further medical issues, she has had to increase her number of daily carers to four, putting further strain on her finances.

We’re supporting her through this, working with her local food bank to ensure a supply of nutritious food and providing a driver volunteer to help her get to essential appointments.

But in the long term this won’t be enough.

We're calling on the Chancellor for urgent action in the Autumn Statement to support disabled households through the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Show your support by sharing our posts on Twitter and using the hashtag #SupportCantWait

"As we enter the second winter of the cost of living crisis, our blind veterans still face unfair financial hardship because of their sight loss. Blind Veterans UK is joining over 80 sight loss and disability charities to urge the Chancellor to provide urgent support for disabled households, recognising that they are disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis. Our blind veterans have served the nation faithfully and now need their government to support them."
Our new CEO Adrian Bell
Adrian Bell
Chief Executive

Our letter to the Chancellor

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:

  1. All benefits to be uprated at least in line with inflation in the Autumn Statement, as is the norm.
  2. 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.
  3. Additional Winter financial support targeted at disabled households with higher energy costs.
  4. Consultation on an energy social tariff under the UK Government's commitment to develop a new approach to consumer protection in energy markets.
  5. 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.

Yours sincerely,

Blind Veterans UK, 4 Sight Vision Support, Action for Kids (AFK), Affinity Trust, Aspens, Berkshire Vision, Brainkind, BucksVision, Bury Society for Blind and Partially Sighted People, Camphill Village Trust, Certitude, 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, FitzRoy, Forth Valley Sensory Centre, Glaucoma UK, Golden Lane Housing, Grace Eyre, Guide Dogs, Headway East London, Henshaws, Imagine Act and Succeed, Imagine Independence, Jewish Blind & Disabled, Kent Association for the Blind, Kids Learning Disability England, Learning Disability London, Leonard Cheshire, Macular Society, Making Space, Mencap, Mind, MySight York, MyVision Oxfordshire, NAS, New Prospects Association, One Fylde, Outlookers, Papworth Trust, PSS, Retina UK, RNIB, Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC), Scope, SeeAbility, Sense, 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, VICTA, Vision Support, Vision Support Barrow and District, Visionary, Vista, VoiceAbility, Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), Your Support Matters CIC

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