National Energy Action (NEA) and Scope charities have warned that half a million people who are on Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments in England and Wales are now ineligible to claim for the Warm Home Discount as these benefits no longer qualify.
The government are changing the one off payment to provide a “winter lifeline” which increased by £10 to £150 this winter, tens of thousands are now being told to check their eligibility.
NEA chief executive Adam Scorer said, “The Warm Home Discount is a winter lifeline. It is a vital part of the energy bill support schemes and yet over half a million low-income and vulnerable households who aren’t on benefits or who live in marginally smaller or newer homes will no longer receive the rebates.
“These households are likely to be either single people, single parents or disabled households. Removing a £150 rebate from these vulnerable groups is unwelcome and an unnecessary change to a vital programme – especially during an energy crisis”.
James Taylor, director of strategy at Scope, said, “It’s shameful the Government is taking away the Warm Home Discount from those who need it most.
“Life costs a lot more when you’re disabled. Scope is hearing from disabled people whose health will deteriorate if they can’t stay warm. People who are having to turn off fridges, and who are worried about how they will run vital equipment like breathing machines and powered wheelchairs.
“The Government needs to provide more direct financial support now, not less, so disabled people don’t freeze and starve this winter.”
The NEA and Scope and other charities have warned that the average annual domestic energy bills is at a record £2,500.
This is virtually double compared to 2021 and the most vulnerable people who live in England and Wales will be left out in the cold this winter.
Scorer added, “People are planning for and relying on this support. They will be appalled that these changes are being made at this time.
“Some of the most vulnerable people in our society could be left out in the cold. Charities like our own shouldn’t be left to pick up the pieces, we are already seeing record numbers needing our help more than ever.”