#SupportCantWait – Time for more support for people living with sight loss

Visionary has joined with our members and other charities in calling for urgent action to support people with living sight loss and other disabilities as the cost of living crisis continues.

Join us throughout the day on social media and share #SupportCantWait

Today’s day of action (15 November) aims to highlight to the Chancellor the huge impact of the ongoing cost of living crisis is having on people with living with sight loss.  We are calling for urgent support including uprating benefits at least in line with inflation and consulting on an energy social tariff – needed more than ever as we start another winter.

Start of letter

Joint sector letter to the Chancellor

15 November 2023

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,

  1. 4 Sight Vision Support
  2. Action for Kids (AFK)
  3. Affinity Trust
  4. Aspens
  5. Berkshire Vision
  6. Blind Veterans UK
  7. Brainkind
  8. BucksVision
  9. Bury Society for Blind and Partially Sighted People
  10. Camphill Village Trust
  11. Certitude
  12. Choice Support
  13. Chrysalis Housing
  14. Community Integrated Care
  15. Croydon Mencap
  16. David Lewis
  17. Devon in Sight
  18. Dimensions UK
  19. East Cheshire Eye Society
  20. Fight for Sight / Vision Foundation
  21. FitzRoy
  22. Forth Valley Sensory Centre
  23. Glaucoma UK
  24. Golden Lane Housing
  25. Grace Eyre
  26. Guide Dogs
  27. Headway East London
  28. Henshaws
  29. Imagine Act and Succeed
  30. Imagine Independence
  31. Jewish Blind & Disabled
  32. Kent Association for the Blind
  33. Kids
  34. Learning Disability England
  35. Learning Disability London
  36. Leonard Cheshire
  37. Macular Society
  38. Making Space
  39. Mencap
  40. Mind
  41. MySight York
  42. MyVision Oxfordshire
  43. NAS
  44. New Prospects Association
  45. One Fylde
  46. Outlookers
  47. Papworth Trust
  48. PSS
  49. Retina UK
  50. RNIB
  51. Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC)
  52. Scope
  53. SeeAbility
  54. Sense
  55. Sensory Services by Sight for Surrey
  56. Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind
  57. Sight Loss Shropshire
  58. Sight Support Derbyshire
  59. Sight Support West of England
  60. St Anne’s
  61. St Elizabeth’s
  62. Sutton Vision
  63. The Northam Care Trust
  64. Thomas Pocklington Trust
  65. Together Trust
  66. Turning Point
  67. United Response
  68. VICTA
  69. Vision Support
  70. Vision Support Barrow and District
  71. Visionary
  72. Vista
  73. VoiceAbility
  74. Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG)
  75. Your Support Matters CIC

and 10 additional Visionary members.

End of letter

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