Lisa Nandy MP: Disabled people among hardest hit by cost-of-living crisis
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With food prices and rents increasing, heating bills going up and taxes rising, the impact the crisis is having has been the number one issue raised with my office this year.
Disabled people in Wigan are amongst the hardest hit. Before the crisis, the disability charity Scope reported that disabled people already faced average extra costs of almost £600 a month.
For 24 per cent of families with disabled children, this amounted to over £1,000 a month. Now a recent survey of over 1,500 people by the GM Disabled People’s Panel has revealed the true impact the crisis is having on disabled people across Greater Manchester.
The survey found that 20% of disabled people in Greater Manchester couldn’t afford essential items and 28% could afford essential items but nothing else.
As a result, almost 70% of people have changed the food they eat to save money and over half say they are now eating less. A quarter of respondents have had to use a foodbank.
A third of people cannot pay all their bills with 70% of respondents using less heat and light. 7% of people are missing payments with 39% reporting being in debt.
I have been calling on Ministers to offer real help to all those who need it including disabled people and welcomed the Government’s announcement, in the Autumn Statement last month, that most in-work and disability benefits will rise by 10%.
However, this is still less than the rate of inflation recorded in October and not the real terms increase that many charities have called for.
The rise will also not take effect until April 2023, despite many charities requesting it be implemented immediately to help with winter costs.
Prior to the Autumn Statement, the Government had already announced one off cost-of-living payments for people on benefits, with people on disability benefit receiving an extra £150.
Nevertheless, I know that disability charities argue the Government should make a further payment because many disabled people have particularly high energy needs because of managing conditions and running specialist equipment.
We must treat people accessing benefits with dignity, not burden them with impossible debts and protect people’s financial independence in our social security system. Local support is also available for everyone struggling financially this winter.
Wigan Council have launched the Here for You campaign (wigan.gov.uk/HereForYou) which encourages residents in need to talk to the council and be directed to support.
The council have also come together with local charities and community hubs to create a network of 75 warm, welcoming places to help people keep warm this winter.
Foodbanks across the borough and excellent organisations like The Brick and Fur Clemt are also keeping people fed this Christmas.
I want to wish everyone in Wigan a Happy Christmas and to thank all the charities, organisations, council staff and volunteers and everyone who will be working hard to help those most in need over the festive period.