RNIB calls on Government to ‘urgently’ increase benefits in line with inflation
The charity delivered a petition to the Department of Work and Pensions offices in London on Thursday
30 September 2022
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has called on the Government to ‘urgently’ increase its support for blind and partially sighted people during the cost of living crisis.
The charity delivered a petition, signed by 2733 people, to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) offices in London on Thursday 29 September.
The petition asks the DWP to take ‘urgent action’ to support vulnerable people by increasing benefits payments and guaranteeing targeted support to ensure that people with sight loss can meet rising energy bills.
The charity is also asking for the decision to exclude many people with sight loss from the Warm Home Discount Scheme to be reversed, with David Clarke, RNIB chief operating officer, saying it “has further exacerbated financial concerns.”
OT has reported on how blind and partially sighted people are particularly at risk as living costs spiral, with charities revealing that many are choosing to switch off lights in their homes, leading to increased risk of injury.
Concern over living costs is leading to an increase in isolation amongst those with sight and hearing loss, OT has been told by multiple sources in the charity sector.
Clarke said: “Even before prices began to rise, one in five blind and partially sighted people said they had some or great difficulty in making ends meet. It’s deeply concerning that many are now using less energy to save money to afford the rising cost of living.”
He said that the energy price cap, which will come into force in October, would “go some way to relieve the stress faced by many blind and partially sighted people who are being hit harder by spiralling costs” but that “further targeted action is still urgently needed.”
Clarke called the one-off £150 disability cost of living payment, available to those who receive non-means tested disability benefits, “just not enough.”
He said it is “vital that the Government supports blind and partially sighted people by urgently increasing benefits in line with inflation rather than waiting until April 2023 as currently intended.”
Clarke added: “Hundreds of people with sight loss have told us about the extreme worry and anxiety that the crisis is causing in their daily lives. Blind and partially sighted people face additional, unavoidable costs and are twice as likely to live in a home that has a total income of £1500 a month or less.
“Even with the energy price guarantee and the previously announced £400 energy grant, people with sight loss will still be spending an unsustainable amount of income on bills.”
Lead image: RNIB chief operating officer, David Clarke (second from right), handing the petition to the Department of Work and Pensions at their offices at Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, alongside campaigners.