Families who need electricity to stay ALIVE put at risk by energy price rises


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Around 900,000 people with disabilities are in fuel poverty and rising bills amid the Cost of Living crisis could mean this number jumps to 2.1 million, says Scope and charity National Energy Action

NHS worker and mum-of-three Noor with her daughter Aminah

Soaring energy bills are forcing disabled people to choose between eating and staying alive.

Thousands of people with disabilities rely on electricity to run life-saving equipment, including ventilators, wheelchairs and hoists.

They often have higher energy costs as many conditions require people to stay warm and frequently wash clothes and bedding.

Jessica and Ali Allen-Choudhry, of Solihull, West Mids, fear they will have to sacrifice meals to pay for the running costs of equipment.

Ali, 36, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and needs 24/7 ventilation, while Jessica, 32, has cerebral palsy and uses an electric wheelchair.

Their combined estimated gas and electricity bill was £4,831.01 annually, just over £400 a month. From today it rises to £7,562.34, around £630 a month.






Jess Allen-Choudhry with her husband Ali

“We have to use the equipment regardless of costs, we need it to live,” says Jessica. “If it carries on we won’t be able to make ends meet.”

Jessica says: “The ultimate concern would be affording food. Ali gets cold easily, we have to have the heating on. I need to keep my husband warm and safe.”

They are unable to work due to their conditions, but she says: “Our benefits haven’t increased despite rising bills. Our energy company said they didn’t do price cuts for disabled people.”

Figures released by charity Scope revealed disabled adults have seen the biggest increase in household costs for energy bills.

Disabled people are also more than twice as likely to have a cold house, and three times as likely to not have been able to afford food.







Jordan Wright and his mom Sarah
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Image:

STEVE FINN PHOTOGRAPHY)

Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis made a plea on BBC Five Live, saying: “We are a first world, rich nation and I am on this radio station talking about how people are going to survive, whether they are going to choose to freeze or to starve. I don’t feel it is right. We need to help them. I’ve said this until I am blue in the face, the Spring Statement was not enough.”

Amanda Batten, chief executive of disability charity Contact, says: “Families are genuinely fearful about how they’ll manage to pay bills. There is a real risk to disabled children’s health.”

Around 900,000 people with disabilities are in fuel poverty and rising bills could mean this number jumps to 2.1 million, says Scope and charity National Energy Action.

Noor Fatima is concerned rising bills could cause problems for her eight-year-old daughter Aminah, who has spinal muscular atrophy.







Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis
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Image:

mirror.co.uk)

Aminah, of Bradford, uses equipment to breathe at night and an electric wheelchair. She needs the heating on to avoid muscle spasms.

NHS assistant ward manager Noor, 37, says she and her Uber driver husband Abdul, 38, pay £849.25 a year for electricity, but from tomorrow that will rise by 42% to £1,209.57.

“It’s going to get to a point where we’re going to really struggle,” says Noor. “I’m not sure how long we can keep it up.” Part-time clinical secretary Sarah Wright’s son Jordan, 25, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which has left him with no movement, respiratory failure, and on a ventilator.

Sarah, 50, of Hastings, East Sussex, says: “He has numerous medical equipment. I can’t cut down on the electricity.”

She pays £116 a month for energy but is fearful this could double when the fixed-rate term ends in August. She says: “I can’t put my son’s health at risk. Jordan’s life expectancy is late 20s and I want to keep him as comfortable as possible.”

Our Cost of Living team of experts are here to help YOU through a very difficult year.

They’ll be bringing you the latest money news stories and also providing specialist advice.

Whether it’s rocketing energy bills, the cost of the weekly shop or increased taxes, our team will be with you all the way.

Every Thursday at 1pm they will take part in a Facebook Live event to answer your questions and offer their advice. Visit facebook.com/dailymirror/live to watch. You can read more about our team of experts here.

If you have a question – or want to share your story – please get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Shadow Minister for Disabled People Vicky Foxcroft has raised the issue in the House of Commons, saying: “It’s not just people choosing between heating and eating – there’s people choosing between heating and eating or keeping lifesaving treatment going.”

Last week, the Health Secretary pledged to push for more support for disabled people.

Jessica says: “What I’d like them to do for people with high usage is put a cap on it. But, I think the Government just don’t care about disabled people.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We urge people to check they are receiving the benefits to which they’re entitled.

“The Government is taking decisive action to help more than 27 million households with rising energy costs.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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