Around 290,000 disabled people claiming PIP, DLA and AA benefits will be excluded from the Warm Home Discount scheme when it reopens this year, under government plans confirmed today
The government is barring 290,000 disabled benefits claimants from claiming benefits worth £150 a year to help with the cost of energy bills.
The government originally planned to block 210,000 people from getting the Warm Home Discount payments.
This scheme gives government money to energy firms, which is then handed on as £140 discounts to household bills – rising to £150 this year.
But today the government confirmed the number of disabled people not able to claim Warm Home Discount would be 290,000 instead – a rise of 80,000.
The move has been criticised by disability charity Scope, who called it an “insult” and called on the government to reverse the decision.
The changes mean people claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payments (PIP) or Attendance Allowance (AA) will no longer be able to apply for the scheme, which reopens later in the year.
The government has confirmed it will increase the number of people who can claim Warm Home Discount by 750,000, to 3million, and extended the scheme until 2026.
However, 290,000 disabled people will be unable to claim at all under the confirmed plans.
Government documents justified the decision by saying more people would benefit overall.
These documents say that while the “overall proportion of recipients with a long term illness or disability reduces under the proposed reforms, it is still higher than the proportion of fuel poor with a disability, and the proportion of the overall population with a disability”.
Scope head of policy and campaigns Louise Rubin said: “This move is an insult to those disabled people who have already been cutting back for months.
“Amid the worst cost of living crisis in decades, it’s almost unfathomable that the government will cut support for rising energy bills from nearly 300,000 disabled people.
“Life costs more if you’re disabled. Our energy helpline is now overwhelmed with calls from disabled people who are already facing sky-high energy bills, and do not know how they will afford to charge vital equipment, or stay warm, as the crisis goes on.
“At a time when we are facing a real terms cut to benefits, it’s critical that the government reverse this decision.”
The government has been approached for comment.
For those on a variable energy bill tariff who pay by direct debit, the price cap is going up by £693 from £1,277 to £1,971 for this year’s bills.
Prepayment customers will see a bigger jump, with their price cap going up by £708, from £1,309 to £2,017.
The price cap applies to everyone on a variable rate – the sort of energy bill you will have if you’re no longer on a fixed deal, or if you were moved to a new provider after your old energy firm collapsed.