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UK sight loss charities demand the UK Government increases benefits in line with inflation rather than wages

Charities representing blind and partially sighted people are urging the UK Government to increase benefits in line with inflation rather than wages when a decision is made at the end of the month.

Around two million people live with sight loss in the UK, and 340,000 of these are registered blind or partially sighted. 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, with the cost-of-living crisis making the situation even worse.

The charity coalition is calling on the Prime Minster to confirm that benefits will be increased in line with inflation when the Chancellor announces his medium-term fiscal plan on 31 October. In addition, the uprating of benefits need to be based on up-to-date inflation rates and be brought in before the Winter, bringing forward its implementation from April, to ensure people with sight loss can make ends meet.

Matt Stringer, RNIB Chief Executive, said: “The UK Government’s mini-budget and energy price guarantee didn’t go nearly far enough to support blind and partially sighted people through the cost-of-living crisis.

“They must increase benefits in line with inflation rather than wages, otherwise this would amount to the biggest real term cut to the basic rate of benefits ever made in a single year.

“A reversal of the promise by the Government to raise benefits in line with inflation would be a devastating blow to many people with sight loss. Targeted support is needed now to help those impacted by rising costs in all areas of their lives and stop people being pushed into hardship.”

Nicky Shaw, Blind Veterans UK Director of Operations, said: “The blind and partially sighted, including the blind veterans we support, need action to allow them to cope with the cost-of-living crisis. They require deliberate intervention to prevent them from experiencing unfair hardship as a result of living with sight loss.”

Joanne Creighton, Chief Executive, Glaucoma UK, said: “As a nation, and as individuals, we have a duty of care towards people living with sight loss in the UK. We must protect their wellbeing and ensure they have the support they need to live well with their disability.

“Raising benefits in line with wages and not inflation in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis equates to a severe reduction in vital support for many people affected by sight loss in our communities and will be highly detrimental to their quality of life. Glaucoma UK stands with our VI Sector partners in calling on the government to increase benefits in line with inflation and to urgently provide people with sight loss the crucial continued support they need and deserve.”

Fiona Sandford, Chief Executive of Visionary, said: “The Visionary network comprises 115 local member organisations with a collective reach to 225,000 people affected by visual impairment. Many of these people are currently experiencing significant financial hardship and it is imperative that action is taken now to reverse the damaging impact that rising costs will have on already challenging lives.”

Charles Colquhoun, Chief Executive, Thomas Pocklington Trust, said: “We know that benefits have been falling behind the real cost of living for many years. Any further weakening of the link between benefit increases and inflation will leave low-income blind and partially sighted people facing real difficulty.”

Blind and partially sighted people 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.

Notes to editors

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About RNIB

We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.

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