Disability action group leader speaks at cladding protest
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Hannah Deakin, 30, suffers from a range of physical and neurological conditions, requiring equipment at home that up her electricity and energy costs, she shared her struggles exclusively with Express.co.uk. Disability equality charity Scope and fuel poverty charity National Energy Action have warned that 2.1 million households with a disabled member could be thrust into fuel poverty as energy bills soar.
Further research has shown that being disabled comes at a cost of roughly £583 per month, with fewer Britons being able to afford this price tag.
Ms Deakin suffers from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Hypermobility Syndrome, spams, Functional Neurological Disorder, Osteoporosis and has a plated femur due to a spiral fracture.
Everyday she faces severe pain, fatigue, spasms and largely reduced mobility due to these conditions.
She said: “I need help in all aspects of my life.”
The Surrey resident uses a powerchair to move around and can only travel using a wheelchair accessible vehicle due to her pain and lacking local access.
This vehicle alone “means extremely high fuel costs” for Ms Deakin, who is already concerned for her financial wellbeing despite receiving PIP and ESA.
She shared: “I am really worried about the rising costs of living, especially gas, electricity and fuel costs.
“If I didn’t have support from my parents I am not sure what I would do.
“According to Scope it already costs disabled people an average of £583 more a month to live and I couldn’t agree more. I am really feeling it. You need to be a millionaire to be disabled.”
Compounding her general additional needs due to her condition, Ms Deakin also faces incredibly high electricity costs because of equipment she needs at home.
She explained all of the accommodations she needs to go about her daily life: “I need an electric bed as I can’t sit up and need assistance in bed, an air flow mattress as I am at high risk of pressure sores, due to reduced mobility, a powerchair as I can’t walk or wheel a manual wheelchair, an oxygen concentrator to help with pain, fatigue and brain fog and a electric height adjustable desk as I can’t get under a standard one.”
Her electric bed and air flow mattress run 24/7 and her powerchair needs to be charged regularly for roughly 12 hours.
On top of this, Ms Deakin has poor temperature control and as a result has increased heating, fans, washing and hot water bottles to help her cope with pain and temperature.
She commented: “All these use electricity and are additional expenses I would not have if I wasn’t disabled.”
James Taylor, executive director of strategy at Scope, shared his concerns for Ms Deakim and countless others facing similar financial challenges: “For many disabled people facing this enormous hike in energy prices, there is simply nothing left to cut back.”
The costs of being disabled has seen many people trying to cut back in every way possible, but vital equipment, treatment and medication should not be something they should have to compromise simply because they cannot afford it.
Mr Taylor continued: “Scope’s research shows that half of disabled people whose household bills have increased in the past few months have seen their health and mental health get worse.”
Government benefits are the main source of income for many disabled Britons, and the meagre 3.1 percent rise made this month has quickly been eaten up by the current seven percent inflation rate.
Ultimately, this has seen a real term cut in income for many people.
Mr Taylor advised: “The Government needs to get a grip of this crisis and provide direct financial support to disabled people and increase benefits in line with inflation.
“Anything less will end up pushing millions more disabled households into poverty.”
A DWP Spokesperson said: “We know that living with a long-term illness or disability can impact on living costs and financial support is available to those with disabilities, or those who care for them.
“We urge people to check whether they are receiving all of the benefits to which they are entitled, and to be aware of the wider support this opens up, including help with transport, broadband or prescription costs.
“In addition, the Government is taking decisive action to help more than 27 million households with rising energy costs, with a £200 reduction on bills this autumn, a £150 non-repayable reduction in Council Tax bills and our £1billion household support fund is helping the most vulnerable with essential costs.”
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