Exclusive: Conservative MP to raise WaterSure-style energy scheme with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt - to help disabled people pay energy bills

Two leading disability charities have also called for more support for disabled people from the government during the cost of living crisis

A Conservative MP will raise a WaterSure-style scheme with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, which would help disabled people pay their energy bills during the cost of living crisis.

Energy prices are rising for households across the UK, but those with disabilities are finding it difficult to keep up with costs as they require more gas and electricity to aid with their day-to-day living, including the charging of medical equipment. The National Grid is looking at emergency measures in case of energy blackouts.

Two disability charities are also calling for more support for disabled people during the cost of living crisis, including a scheme for energy similar to WaterSure.

WaterSure is a scheme which helps some people with their water bills. To apply for the scheme, you must be on benefits and need to use a lot of water either for medical reasons or because your household has a certain number of school-age children.

Conservative MP Iain Stewart said he would raise the possibility of introducing such a scheme with the Treasury. He said: “The government has already provided additional support for people with disabilities and the Chancellor announced last week that additional payments will be made.” However, he added: “I would be happy to raise the suggestion of a scheme similar to WaterSure for energy with the Chancellor.”

Iain Stewart is the Conservative MP for Milton Keynes South

NationalWorld recently spoke to two parent carers, one from Stewart’s constituency, who were worried about the impact rising energy bills and potential blackouts could have on their disabled children, with both calling on the government to provide more support.

Paul Ridley, 57, from Milton Keynes, whose son, Keith Ridley, 33, has severe autism, erratic sleep problems, irritable bowel syndrome and epilepsy said his energy bills are increasing, which is “a worry”. Keith is on medication for his epilepsy, some of which have to be kept at a certain temperature, and his medication shakes also have to be chilled, with the family also using the washing machine at least five times a day due to Keith’s disability needs, such as incontinence, seizures and meltdowns. Paul added: “The help the government has given so far has hardly touched the service.”

Paul Ridley, 57, is a carer for his son, Keith Ridley, 33

Dan McEvoy, 47, is a full time parent carer to his nine-year-old daughter, Elisa, who was born with Cerebral Palsy and is non verbal, deaf and registered blind.  The nine-year-old has several medications that she takes regularly, two of which require refrigeration, and she relies on a variety of medical equipment which require electricity.

As Elisa relies heavily on medication and medical equipment on a daily basis, Dan said he feels “anxious” about the potential of energy blackouts, but has also called for a scheme similar to that of WaterSure - which provides a low, fixed rate, tariff for those eligible, such as families who care for a disabled family member - to be introduced for energy.

Dan McEvoy, 47, is a full time parent carer to his nine-year-old daughter Elisa

This comes as two leading disability charities have called for more support from the government as they say disabled people feel they are being “punished” during the cost of living crisis, and that a scheme similar to WaterSure but for energy costs would be beneficial.

Tom Marsland, policy manager at disability equality charity Scope, said: “We’re hearing from disabled people who feel they’re being punished for needing to use more energy. Lots of disabled people have to use more electricity to charge equipment like wheelchairs and hoists, or for life-saving equipment like breathing machines. Many people have to use more heating because it’s much harder for them to keep warm.”

A Conservative MP will raise a WaterSure-style scheme with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, which would help disabled people pay their energy bills during the cost of living crisis

He said that despite it not yet being the middle of winter, Scope is already being “inundated” with calls from disabled people who have cut back everything and are hundreds of pounds in debt on their energy bills.

“This is an emergency. The government’s £150 disability cost of living payment has not touched the sides,” he added. “A discounted tariff for energy, similar to WaterSure, would help get more financial support to disabled people who need it most. However there also must be much more consistency and better promotion of the scheme compared to WaterSure, which only a third of disabled households are aware of.”

Richard Kramer, chief executive of Sense, said the charity is calling for the government to introduce a social tariff in the energy market. He said: “This would provide discounted energy to disabled households who require higher energy use due to essential equipment such as electric wheelchairs or breathing machines. These are not luxuries or things households can choose to cut down on.”

Mr Kramer noted that disabled people are “facing a desperate situation”, with Sense research showing rising prices have already pushed three-quarters of disabled households into debt. He explained that while the government interventions to tackle the cost of living crisis so far are “welcome”, none have addressed “the disproportionate impact rising energy bills have on disabled households with inevitably high energy usage”. He added: “Increasing benefits and introducing a social tariff will give disabled people a fair deal when it comes to paying their bills.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt recently announced his autumn budget (Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images)

A government spokesperson said: “We understand this is a difficult time for families across the country, including those living with a disability, which is why we have put in place immediate support for this coming winter. This includes direct payments to vulnerable households worth £1,200, plus an additional £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment. On top of this, the Government’s Energy Price Guarantee will save the typical household around £900 this winter. A review is considering how to support households and businesses from April 2023, focusing support for those in need while reducing costs for the taxpayer.”