22nd January 2024
Over 40,000 disabled households have had to sacrifice a cooked meal to run or charge essential medical equipment, shock analysis from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) suggests.
The charity analysed research from the polling company YouGov and found that an estimated 41,428 households with someone living with a disability or long-term health condition had sacrificed a cooked meal to charge or run medical equipment.
CAS said the figures underline the “hidden crisis” amongst Scotland’s disabled people, who face a sharper impact from inflation and rising energy bills.
As part of the “Worried This Winter” campaign the charity is encouraging people to seek help from the Citizens Advice network in a variety of ways. People can visit www.cas.org.uk/worried and from there they can choose an option that works for them such as:
- Check online advice pages or interactive self-help tools like www.moneymap.scot
- Use specialist services like the Money Talk Team
- Find their local CAB if they feel they need one to one advice
Last year the average gain from energy related advice from across the network was more than £400. Advice gains generally for those who saw a benefit was over £3,700.
In an example of the type of case CABs have been dealing with, a woman sought advice from her local CAB due to a £1,600 energy debt associated with running her disabled daughter’s medical devices. Her energy supplier doubled her bill to £300 per month to bring down her arrears. She cannot afford these payments and sought information about grants to cover the cost of running the medical devices.
CAS Social Justice spokesperson Stephanie Millar said:
“We know the cost-of-living crisis has meant people have faced impossible choices when it comes to their spending and energy use, but the potential scale here is absolutely horrifying.
“This crisis has impacted disabled people in a far greater scale than others might recognise. Anyone who is worried about bills and money this winter should seek advice from the CAB network.
“That doesn’t have to mean going to a CAB, our online advice pages are used by millions of people a year and we have interactive self-help tools to help people see where they could boost their incomes or cut their costs.
“The CAB network gets incredible results for people. Last year the average gain for someone who saw one after seeking advice was over £3,700. That can be absolutely life changing money this winter. We don’t judge, we just help.”