Disabled people and carers are facing an impossible situation from April, as the price of our energy skyrockets, leaving us unable to afford to run the medical equipment or heating we need to stay healthy, or in some cases, alive.
While the UK's six biggest energy firms raked in over £1 billion of profits, for their wealthy shareholders, the ordinary family, caring for a disabled person are left terrified over how they are going to survive.
There has been a huge outpouring of fear, and anxiety, on social media from disabled people and carers about how we are going to afford our energy bills, that are, in some cases, doubling next month.
Millions of us were struggling financially already, due to the discriminatory system that forces carers into poverty, coupled with the cost of living rising and our government increasing outgoings like our council tax. The government have raised our Carer's Allowance by £2 a week, taking it to £69.70.
It is meaningless though, as those of us who claim Universal Credit as some of our family income, have our Carer's Allowance taken off our UC. In reality, the CA rise is leaving us £8 more a month worse off. You may think to yourself that £8 is not much, but to a carer, it is a whole day's earnings.
Back to the energy crisis and let's think about how it is different for disabled people. Let's think about this in terms of how our human rights are being ignored and eroded. Disabled people are facing the biggest drop in living standards in over 70 years.
For example, if you are an electric wheelchair user. If you need to leave your house to go to the shop. If you need to travel to a different room in your house, to cook the food you bought at the shop. If you need to use the toilet. If you use an electric wheelchair, that chair needs to have been charged, using energy. That person does not have a choice to refrain from using electricity. They have to use it to be mobile. To be able to fulfil basic human needs.
For example, if you are unable to climb stairs. If you need to sleep upstairs in your bedroom. If you need to change your clothing in privacy. If you need to take a shower or a bath. If you use an electric stairlift, that equipment uses electricity, that you have no choice but to pay whatever the energy company demands for it. To be able to fulfil basic human needs.
For example, if you have a medical need, such as a lung condition, that requires you to live in a warm and dry environment, in order for you to remain well. Consider how many times you have been to the doctor yourself, when sick, and been advised to 'keep warm'. Those of us who live with chronic illness, need to be able to afford to heat our homes. Those of us with heart conditions, circulation issues or reduced mobility need to live in a warm environment. Not doing so, is detrimental to our health, against medical advice and dangerous. It is a basic human need to be warm.
These few examples of why disabled people are going to be hit harder by the energy crisis are by no means exhaustive. Consider the person who needs an electric medical bed, to avoid developing pressure sores. The person who needs to wear a CPAP machine overnight, in order to breathe. The premature baby, just discharged home, who is fragile and vulnerable to cold. The child who needs a feeding pump to eat. The parents who run an alert mat, under their sleeping medically complex child. The list of equipment and medical need for energy is endless. And it's not just a case of 'put a jumper on' as we have been advised, time and again, by people who have no humanity in them. We are talking about equipment that people need to meet their basic needs, that a non-disabled or person without any medical conditions doesn't need. The word 'need' is key.
What are the government planning to do to assist citizens with a medical need for energy use?Nothing.
Let that sink in. In the midst of an energy crisis, that will leave millions unable to afford to use the energy they need to live. To meet their basic human needs. The people running our country, and meant to be acting in our best interests, have, yet again, cast medically fragile, disabled and sick people aside with no care for how we will survive. Our government must recognise the huge impact the cost of energy will have on people with medical needs. They must recognise that people are at risk of becoming sick or dying, as a result of this energy crisis, which is no fault of their own.They must act in the best interests of all citizens, including sick or disabled people and offer some help. Anything to help us afford to stay alive.