The DWP is being urged to consider extra cost of living payments worth £900. The idea forms part of a new action plan designed to ease the pressures on millions of struggling households this winter.
It is thought the list of priorities will be considered ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn statement later this month, Birmingham Live reports. The measures would see people claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA), as well as carers, receive a similar £900 to those on means-tested benefits.
It comes as the DWP and HMRC are currently paying out the second instalment of a £900 package to eligible households.
The current package is being paid to households receiving any of the following: income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Universal Credit, Income Support, Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
People on disability benefits such as PIP and DLA had a one-off sum of £150 which arrived between June 20 and July 4. Other benefits have not been included in the cost of living package at all.
According to National Energy Action (NEA), urgent action is still needed to help vulnerable and low-income households. It has put together a list of priorities for the government in the hope some could be considered for implementation this winter.
The NEA report said: “While the provision of cost-of-living income supplements will help many struggling households in the remainder of the financial year (2023-24), key gaps remain, and we believe further urgent actions are needed to support some of the most vulnerable people who are at most risk of needless death and cold-related morbidity this winter.”
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Energy bills are still set to be high this winter because of the absence of the monthly rebate that was in place from last October until March of this year. It gave a total discount of £400 to millions.
NEA is urging the government to consider more cost of living payments. The fuel poverty charity explained: “Another option, albeit not targeted at providing direct energy relief, is to provide additional cost of living payments for the most vulnerable households who have missed out on support (low-income carers, households on bereavement allowance) and provide further support for low-income households with disabilities and medical dependencies.”
NEA says carers “have consistently missed out on support” despite often facing financial difficulties “due to their reduced earning potential and diminished opportunities for higher level learning and training.”
The fuel poverty charity added it would like to see all carers “receive the full £900 cost of living support, regardless of whether they also receive means-tested benefits.”
“The additional costs of this would be tempered by the number of carers that are in receipt of means-tested benefits,” it said. “Similarly, households in receipt of bereavement allowance have likely had recent shocks to their income but may not be in the means-tested social security system. They have also been largely missed out when it comes to additional support.”
The report adds: “Households with disabilities and medical conditions are very vulnerable to the impacts of the energy crisis. They often need to use much more energy than the typical household due to needing to spend more time at home, needing to live in a warmer home to stay healthy, or needing to power high-demand medical equipment (such as dialysis machines). NEA believes that because of this, households in receipt of DLA and PIP should receive the full £900 cost of living payment.” This would cost in the region of £4.5 billion, it says.
It suggests funding for such measures could come from government underspending on the Energy Bills Support Scheme, Energy Price Guarantee and Warm Home Discount. It adds that with Ofgem’s price cap now below the Government’s Energy Price Guarantee, this has led to an additional £10billion-plus in financial headroom.
The DWP has previously said it was reviewing its existing cost of living payments to see if more were needed. Guy Opperman, Minister for Employment at the DWP, said any additional measures would most likely be announced during the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on November 22.