Disabled left out in the cold this winter

September 22, 2010 10:21 AM

Julian Huppert• Disabled people were twice as likely to go without heating, food, clothes and leisure activities last winter because of a lack of money

• Over 88% of Britons, regardless of whether they are disabled or not, support extending Winter Fuel Payments to severely disabled people

There is widespread support for the Liberal Democrat's manifesto promise to extend Winter Fuel Payments to severely disabled people, according to new evidence revealed by leading disability charity Papworth Trust.

Annual Winter Fuel Payments are currently given to help with heating costs in households which include someone aged 60 or over. Like older people, many disabled people find themselves at home for long periods each day, and need central heating to keep warm. Papworth Trust's survey, based on a sample of almost 1,000 people across Britain, shows that disabled people are actually three times more likely than non-disabled people to stay at home during the daytime in winter months. But disabled people can't always afford to put on the heating when they are stuck at home.

Extending fuel payments to severely disabled people, whilst at the same time bringing forward the age of eligibility increase in line with the state pension age (65), is estimated to make a small yearly saving for the Treasury until at least 2014 . MP Julian Huppert, who has tabled an Early Day Motion on the issue, says that "This survey shows that regardless of their situation, the public support the campaign to extend winter fuel payments to severely disabled people. It is vital that the Government reforms the present system." Papworth Trust is calling for changes to the system at the October Spending Review.

Papworth Trust Chief Executive Adrian Bagg says "Winter Fuel Payments were intended to alleviate financial hardship for people whose health could be more at risk if they did not turn on their heating. Our survey shows that disabled people are three times more likely to have concerns as winter approaches. These payments could be a lifeline this winter."

If you would like to see the full survey results, or to speak to a case study, please email helen.sampson@papworth.org.uk.

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