RNIB demands the Government do more to support blind and partially sighted people struggling with the cost of living
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) handed in a petition signed by 2733 people to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) demanding that they take urgent action to support blind and partially sighted people who are struggling with the cost of living crisis.
RNIB is calling for benefits for blind and partially sighted people to be urgently increased in line with inflation and targeted support to ensure people with sight loss can meet rising energy bills. As part of this, RNIB is seeking a reversal of the decision to remove the Warm Home Discount Scheme from many people with sight loss, to ensure the scheme is available to all claimants in receipt of disability benefits.
Many signatories to the petition cited that as blind and partially sighted people they are using less energy to save money, reducing the use of lighting, which is vital to navigating their homes safely, and reducing using assistive technologies, which support everyday life and independent living. The rising costs are also having a bigger impact on people with sight loss as they already face additional, unavoidable costs like taxi journeys and rising food bills.
David Clarke, RNIB Chief Operating Officer, said: “Even before prices began to rise, one in five blind and partially sighted people said they had some or great difficulty in making ends meet. It’s deeply concerning that many are now using less energy to save money to afford the rising cost of living.
“We welcome the UK Government’s plans to cap average household energy bills at £2,500 a year from October. This will go some way to relieve the stress faced by many blind and partially sighted people who are being hit harder by spiralling costs, but further targeted action is still urgently needed.
“The one-off £150 disability cost of living payment for people who receive non-means tested disability benefits is simply just not enough.
It’s vital that the Government supports blind and partially sighted people by urgently increasing benefits in line with inflation rather than waiting until April 2023 as currently intended. The decision to cut the Warm Home Discount Scheme must be reversed as this has further exacerbated financial concerns.”
“Hundreds of people with sight loss have told us about the extreme worry and anxiety that the crisis is causing in their daily lives. Blind and partially sighted people face additional, unavoidable costs and are twice as likely to live in a home that has a total income of £1,500 a month or less. Even with the energy price guarantee and the previously announced £400 energy grant, people with sight loss will still be spending an unstainable amount of income on bills.”
Notes to editors
Image: RNIB COO David Clarke and RNIB campaigners hand in petition to the Department of Work and Pensions at their offices at Caxton House, Tothill St, London SW1H 9NA
Date and time: 11:30am - 12.30pm, Thursday 29 September
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