Around six million people on disability benefits will receive £150 from today to help them cope with rising living costs, but some say the money is not enough.
Katy Styles is a full-time carer for her husband Mark, who suffers from a rare form of motor neurone disease and will be eligible for the one-off payment.
Ms Styles told Sky News: “It won’t really scratch the surface.”
She added: “I’m worried that’s going to go in an instant and I’m burying my head in the sand at the moment when thinking about how long that will last.”
A lot of the equipment and care Mr Styles requires relies on using electricity and their household bills are already higher than ever – and still rising.
Ms Styles said: “As a disabled family you need more energy to keep your home warmer so that the person doesn’t get chest infections.
“It might be that you need extra fridge space to hold drugs, you might be using an electric wheelchair and having to power it.
“It’s things we can’t cut back on. It’s not like we can just throw on an extra jumper.”
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‘Life already costs more when you’re disabled’
Those eligible for the one-off sum include people receiving the disability living allowance, personal independence payment, attendance allowance, Scottish disability benefits (adult disability payment and child disability payment), armed forces independence payment, constant attendance allowance, or the war pension mobility supplement.
And many of these people will share the concerns expressed by the Styles family.
James Taylor, director of strategy at the disability charity Scope, told Sky News: “Life already costs more when you’re disabled – even before this cost of living crisis, disabled people were facing extra costs of around £580 per month.
“So the £150 put forward by government won’t touch the sides.
‘Really difficult choices’
“At the very least, we believe the one-off disability cost of living payment of £150 needs to be doubled.
“We know there are many disabled people who have been struggling over the past 12-or-so months, and have been making really difficult choices about whether to heat their home or feed their families.
“Those choices haven’t been made any easier, and that’s why we want to see this payment doubled.”
In response, a government spokesperson said: “”We recognise that living with a long-term illness or disability can impact on living costs, and therefore, as part of our £37bn package of support, we are supporting six million disabled people with an extra £150 payment.
‘Protecting millions of the most vulnerable’
“In addition to this payment, we will continue to provide a strong financial support system for people with disabilities and their carers including personal independence payment, universal credit and carer’s allowance for the millions affected.
“We are also protecting millions of the most vulnerable people with at least £1,200 of direct payments to those in low income households, allowing people on Universal Credit to keep £1,000 more of what they earn and supporting people in need via the Household Support Fund – which was boosted by £500m – to help pay for essentials.”
The vast majority of people eligible for the payment should receive it by the beginning of October.
The payment will be given automatically, so people should be wary of texts and emails from fraudsters asking for their personal details.