‘Targeted help needed for those choosing between heat and medical equipment’

More help is needed for vulnerable people this winter as those with particular health issues and their families face “impossible choices” on energy costs, a charity has said.

Some families with the highest levels of care have described how they spend up to £900 a month on electricity alone, because of the cost of running special medical equipment, the MND (motor neurone disease) Association said.

The charity said some people have been cutting back on food and turning down their heating to cope with rising costs, and it has called for better targeted support to help those in need.

A small survey of 83 individuals or households affected by MND suggested that just over a quarter (28%) had reduced their use of assistive equipment in the past 12 months in response to rising energy costs, while more than half (51%) reported their household had experienced difficulties paying for food, home heating and energy in that period.

While respondents were from across the UK, the majority were living in England, 63% were living with MND, and around a third were carers, relatives or friends.

The MND Association, launching its Through The Roof campaign, has called on the Government to implement targeted support with energy costs for people with MND, and to consult on long-term measures to support vulnerable households with energy costs, such as an energy social tariff.

Alex Massey, head of campaigning, policy and public affairs from the MND Association said: “The findings of our Through The Roof report must come as a wake-up call for Government.

“People living with and affected by MND are having to make impossible choices between using essential equipment and facing costs they cannot afford. Winter is looming, and we’re adamant that people with MND shouldn’t spend precious time worrying about whether to eat, heat their home or turn on vital equipment.

“We need Government to do more to help vulnerable people and deliver on their overdue promise for a consultation.”

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: “We recognise people are concerned about cost of living challenges and we will continue to support vulnerable households with their energy bills.

“The Government spent around £40 billion covering half a typical household’s energy bill over the winter, and additional help is available for the most vulnerable through an increase to the Warm Home Discount – from which we expect over three million households to benefit – with a further £150 available for disabled people.

“Energy prices have now fallen significantly and we are keeping options under review, including for the most vulnerable households.”