Taking our cost of living campaign to parliament

I’m Melissa, and I’m part of the policy and research team at Sense. We work hard to make sure the interests of disabled people are represented in parliament.

Last week, my team and the media and campaigns team were very busy talking to politicians about our cost of living campaign.

Anna and Steven are holding a petition box

The campaign is all about highlighting the impact that the cost of living crisis is having on people with complex disabilities and their families. We are demanding that the government does more to support disabled people.

Ahead of the chancellor’s next budget on 15 March, we hosted three events in parliament to make sure that disabled people and their families are on the agenda. 

Discussing the crisis at a parliamentary roundtable

We started our activity on 7 March with a roundtable in parliament. 

What is a roundtable, I hear you ask? Well, it’s very much what it sounds like. We gathered a group of people, sat round a table and discussed what needs to happen to support people with complex disabilities.

This was chaired by Sense CEO Richard Kramer and was attended by our campaign champion Anna. It was also attended by key MPs from the Work and Pensions Select Committee and sector partners.  

Anna shared her personal experiences as a parent of a disabled child. Rising energy prices have had a significant impact on Anna and her family. Her son’s condition means that he relies on an electric hoist, a support pillow and wheelchair – all of which use electricity. 

As a result of the cost of living crisis, Anna has been forced to use a food bank for the first time in her life.

Anna received one-off support payments from Sense and the government, but she described these as a sticking plaster.  

We all agreed that there needs to be more long-term support for disabled people from the government. This includes reforming the benefits system, introducing a social tariff for energy and being able to claim money back for running medical equipment at home.  

Handing in our petition at 10 Downing Street

We then headed to 10 Downing Street to hand in our cost of living petition, which demands that the government do more to support disabled people. 

Over 80,000 of you had signed!

See our photos from the petition hand-in.

Talking to MPs and peers about what disabled people need

On 8 March, we headed back to parliament to host a breakfast drop-in, where we talked about the cost of living campaign with more MPs and Lords.  

We had 20 attendees, including the Minister for Disabled People. We used this time with him to discuss how the benefits system needs to be reformed to better support disabled people and how the government can help people with their energy bills. 

Hopefully, these discussions will help the minister when he’s talking to the chancellor about what should be in next week’s budget. 

Take a look at our photo blog from the event to see who spoke with us.

What we achieved, and what’s next

It was a busy, exciting and tiring week for the team but it felt great to see some of our efforts already paying off, with MP Ian Byrne mentioning the campaign and our research in the House of Commons chamber.   

It also felt wonderful to see Sense being represented in parliament with one of our badges being worn in Prime Minister’s Questions.

I’m hopeful that this work will pay off, and we’ll see the needs of people with complex disabilities mentioned in the debates around the budget which is happening this Wednesday 15 March. 

Read more about what we want to see in the budget.