Government support for tackling energy costs didn’t go far enough

Today the Public Accounts Committee published its report examining the effectiveness of the Government’s support at protecting people from spiralling energy costs.  

We welcome the report, which we submitted evidence to, and agree with it’s findings that support was delayed and did not do enough for vulnerable households.  

We know that throughout the cost of living crisis, people with complex disabilities have been disproportionately impacted.

Sense research found that even before the crisis began:

  • Almost a quarter (24%) of people with complex disabilities were unable to keep their home adequately warm.
  • Disabled people generally were three times more likely (13%) to be behind on bills or debts than those with no disability (4%).
  • Disabled people were three times more likely to be food insecure (17%) than those with no disability (5%)

We are pleased to see the committee calling on the Government to do more.  

Where did it go wrong?

Today’s report highlights a number of key areas where the support didn’t go far enough to reach those in need.

  • Insufficient targeted support: This is something we raised in our submission. People with complex disabilities, often require higher energy consumption due to having to run medical equipment like feeding machines at home. The lack of targeted support resulted in people with complex disabilities being disproportionately impacted by the cost of living crisis. The scale of challenge facing the people who we support is why Sense launched our cost of living support fund
  • Delays in support: the report highlights concerns about the delays people faced in receiving the support that was available. Sense agrees with the committee’s conclusion and encourages the government to provide a detailed plan outlining how it intends to better support these households in the future.
  • Uncertainty about the future: the cost of living crisis is far from over for disabled people and their families. Today’s report sheds light on the lack of substantial planning for this winter, and highlights that all current support is due to end in April 2024. We share the committee’s concern about the potential impact on disabled households and call on the government to urgently co-produce a plan for this winter and beyond.

Winter is coming

It may seem strange to talk about winter when the sun is shining outside, but we are already half way through the year. We know that the challenges disabled people and their households face aren’t going away any time soon. Many people are still living in crisis now.

We urge the government to collaborate with disabled individuals and organisations like Sense to make sure that we learn from last winter and avoid the same mistakes. It is crucial to work together to find a long term solution rather than jumping from crisis to crisis.