Weekly Poll – Cost of Living: Energy Price Guarantee
Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 19 September 2022 we asked a question about the Energy Price Guarantee.
Please note that this is a snapshot of the views of our membership and does not reflect a policy stance of Disability Equality Scotland. If you plan to reference the findings featured in this report, please contact us in advance so that we are aware of this.
Question. Do you think the Energy Price Guarantee is an effective measure to deal with rising energy costs?
- Yes – 11% (10 respondents)
- No – 71% (62 respondents)
- Unsure – 18% (16 respondents)
We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.
Impact on Disabled People
Disabled people are more likely to have higher energy requirements compared to non-disabled people. For instance, disabled people may have health related needs to stay warm or to ensure their medication is kept at the correct temperature. Disabled people may also need to use energy for equipment, including nebulisers, stairlifts and hoists, and to charge wheelchairs. Respondents shared their concerns about rising energy costs and how this will impact their health and wellbeing.
“I am scared to put my heating on as already noticing a big increase with my electricity and scared it will be the same with my gas. So, I have already dug out the thermals.”
“People with complex medical conditions/disabilities often need to use more gas and electricity not only to keep their homes warm but to power essential equipment. Recognised as ‘essential users’ cutting back is not an option. People in this situation may be on low incomes, particularly if the cared for and the carer are unable to work, and any benefits will not stretch to cover rises in cost of living.”
“My heating has always been electric, and my joints are very temperature-sensitive, plus I have thermo-regulation issues. There are many occasions where I can totally stay warm enough for comfort with jumpers, blankets, etc but my joints are in crippling pain until I raise the air temperature. Even before the recent price rises, I was paying hundreds per month in electricity as a result of this. I must admit, I had been quite anxious about the price cap projections.”
Most disabled persons are not in employment and are in the home 24 hours a day so they will use more energy and given various health conditions need heat/communication/sustenance. They should be given more of a break financially.”
“It’s not easy to move around to keep warm. If your mentally ill, movement and motivation are really difficult. The cold makes both physical and mental health worse. I live in Scotland it’s damp as well as cold in the winter and I’m in bed already by 5pm. It’s the only way I can keep warm.”
Energy Price Guarantee
The new Prime Minister Liz Truss recently announced the Energy Price Guarantee, which aims to tackle rising energy bills. The UK government says the guarantee will mean that a typical UK household will now pay up to an average £2,500 a year on their energy bill for the next two years. This is almost £1,000 less than typical bills would have risen to under Ofgem’s Energy Price Cap, but this will still be more than the price cap of £1,971 set in April. The majority of respondents (71%) believed that the Energy Price Guarantee is not an effective measure to deal with rising energy costs.
“I feel that fuel/energy costs cap is insulting. For the average household to pay around £200 a month in energy prices is abhorrent. As a disabled person there is little that can be done (or should be) to cut energy usage. The thought of pouring over your smart meter and panicking over usage is adding additional strain on your mental health. What does the government want? Us to be wrapped in duvets and huddled around a solitary candle? I already pay £170 per month in electricity – so any increase will cause me significant hardship and I have appealed to TV/ broadband/ insurance/ laundry/other creditors for a decease only to be met with no, so this leaves cutting some services completely and consider food banks.”
“There are a lot of people on very, very low incomes who are not going to benefit from this but will feel the brunt of increasing prices and inflation. Seems to me it is aimed at protecting those already not living in poverty than those that are. People who are actually working on minimum wages and disabled people should be properly supported and not punished because of their disability or the nature of the work they are undertaking. Let Liz Truss get paid the same as an average hospital cleaner then pay all her bills on that wage for the next two years.”
“Too often these “help” schemes help the people with the most. Disabled people of all backgrounds suffer more because of usually higher bills whether it is summer or winter. Far too often people who are “friends” of the government get the biggest help with most of the policies the government brings out benefiting them the most. Instead of doing the right thing and yes, maybe not as popular to their friends, they do a half type job so that they are not upsetting their party donors or friends, so the normal person still suffers. Yes, maybe the bills are reduced, but usually only by a token amount and not the actual amount we need. Everyone on the lower end of the public, the ones who have the least amount of money are sadly always the ones who pay the most. The government needs to actually stand up and maybe even live with someone on the lower end for a while to actually experience how we are affected, instead of meaningless words as they have never experienced having to choose between food or heat.”
“I don’t think it understands the demands on those with disabilities and the impact on them. It will be “helpful” but as to effective? I think there is a need for close monitoring as the situation will affect lives, wellbeing and risks are awful.”
“If the government had kept the energy cap at the figure of last April, then I would be happier.”
“This is too late. How can it possibly help those who are already on the verge of bankruptcy and who owe money to gas and electricity and telephones and credit cards, etc. My electricity supplier says I must have pre-payment meter installed but that will only cost more.”
Respondents shared their views on alternative methods to address rising energy costs, including suggestions on how to increase support for disabled people who typically have higher energy needs.
Some respondents suggested that the UK government must take more direct action through temporarily nationalising energy companies that do not provide affordable tariffs.
“It’s a sticking plaster over a gaping wound. It’s an unsustainable way to try and resolve what will be a long-term problem. The only real option is to bring all utilities back into public ownership and make them not-for-profit.”
“It’s a start but energy should be nationalised, and we should not be paying high market rates as we produce enough of our own energy.”
“Price hikes have been disgraceful especially standing charges doubled. The firms are making billions and taking money from the poor – they do not care if you are overdrawn or incur bank charges by their behaviour.”
“The energy companies need to be told to do what they make us do, even the prices for the year, and to actually stop putting profits before fair prices for all. I could go on all day the same as a lot of people, but sadly the ones who have to listen don’t.”
“As seen today from the PM, energy companies will continue to make massive profits from misery of people who are barely able to afford bills right now.”
“The way that the energy market calculates prices needs to be redesigned and changed. With a lot of energy suppliers providing green energy, it makes no sense why this is affected so badly from oil prices. Oil companies need to be held more responsible and stop being allowed to make record profits at the detriment of people.”
“I think the government should step in and get the big energy corporation to reduce the cost of energy. Better investment on production, delivery, infrastructure and supply of energy. Less fat cat bonuses, either reinvestment to improve the services or investment in education, training or retraining opportunities for all. The installation of better, cost effective energy for higher energy output users, such as hospitals or health/care giving facilities, schools or educational facilities.”
“This will only have short term and very limited benefits. Ultimately the prices will keep rising unless the government reigns in the energy companies. It’s clear here, and across several sectors, that privatisation of our key services (energy, transport, health) has only led to more pain in the long run. Even if the energy companies were nationalised again, this still ignores the problem that peoples homes are, on average, sorely energy inefficient – and most people do not have the funds or personal capability to do much about this.”
Respondents also highlighted the lack of targeted support for disabled people with higher energy requirements. In addition, it was noted that the various schemes that have been announced are confusing and are not presented in accessible formats.
“The Energy Price Guarantee won’t work as it is not properly targeted. Nor are the various other ‘help’ that is available as one off payments this year. Many folks must be really confused by the notion that there is a CAP but it is not what you are likely to pay. It’s not explained easily by anybody who is supposed to be explaining it to people. It’s not the most you can pay at all. You could well pay above that amount. But too many won’t understand the logic of it. The other issue is the various ‘help’ available. Some will automatically get help some won’t. Some like me are not certain if we will get the £650 Cost of Living Payment or the additional £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment.”
“I find the information confusing! The government are borrowing money to be able to finance the financial assistance required to finance the energy charges. However, this money needs to be paid back but how? When? From what?”
“It’s been very difficult to get good quality accessible information on all the cost of living schemes available. It is very confusing for myself, and I am having to rely on family to explain things to me. Clearer information on what the price cap means is still needed – there are people who still think that this is the most you will pay which is not the case.”
The majority of respondents (71%) believed the Energy Price Guarantee is not an effective method to address rising energy costs. Disabled people typically have higher energy requirements. This has resulted in many disabled people feeling very worried that they will be unable to afford to heat their homes, prepare meals, and power essential assistive equipment. Respondents believed that there must be greater targeted support for disabled people through increased benefits and grants. In addition, respondents believed that the UK government must take greater action to address energy companies that are making excessive profits, whilst failing to offer affordable tariffs.