DISABLED people face a “cost-of-breathing” crisis due to higher bills for the energy needed to keep their vital medical equipment running, a charity is warning.

In a new television advertisement, shown on ITV from today, Scope says that disabled people who rely on energy to move around, speak and breathe risk losing their independence, health and wellbeing.

A quarter of the callers to the Scope helpline who rely on medical equipment have had to switch it off to save money.

More than a third of callers are in energy debt, on average by more than £1,000.

Scope says that two in five people who call have medical equipment and almost a quarter of these people have had to turn the vital machines off to cut costs.

The charity points out that disabled households need an additional £975 a month on average to have the same standard of living as non-disabled households.

Scope head of services Toby Greaves said: “As the spiralling cost of living forces many people to cut down their energy use, for disabled people, it can be life and death.

“With summer on the horizon, many people will be turning their thermostats down and hoping to see their energy bills drop.

“But for disabled people who rely on energy to stay alive, going without isn’t an option.”

Linda Burnip of Disabled People Against Cuts said that the information from the helpline was exactly the “horrendous negative impact” that the group had predicted.

She warned that in some cases it could even result in deaths.

“In the short term, we are calling for more help with energy costs for disabled people and, longer term, energy companies must be nationalised for the benefit of all apart from their shareholders,” Ms Burnip said.

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