Thousands of disabled people are behind on their energy bills (Picture: PA)

A leading charity has warned increasing energy costs means disabled people are facing a ‘cost of breathing crisis’.

People who rely on machines to breathe, such as CPAP machines, could lose their independence, health and wellbeing, Scope says.

The charity has supported almost 38,000 disabled people in the last year and of those, more than a third are in debt to energy companies – on average, by more than £1,000.

And almost a quarter of callers to its helpline have had to switch off medical equipment to save money.

Toby Greaves, head of services at Scope, 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.

‘Our helplines are being inundated with heart-wrenching calls from disabled people and their families, who have switched everything off and have nothing left to cut back.’

Some people rely on machines to breathe (Picture: PA)
Scope has supported almost 38,000 disabled people in the last year (Picture: PA)

Many UK households will be looking forward to a reduction in their energy bills over the summer as usage decreases in the warmer months, but many disabled people do not have that option.

Scope will be airing a series of television adverts on ITV over the next two months to highlight the impact of the cost of living crisis on disabled people.

Research published last month found disabled households need an additional £975 a month to have the same standard of living as non-disabled households.

Their television adverts will feature six disabled actors who rely on electrical equipment such as CPAP machines to breathe, hoists to get in and out of bed, and communication devices to speak.

Scope’s disability energy support service has saved disabled people almost £2 million in a year – and the charity encourages anyone in need of help to contact them.

Some disabled people require machines such as hoists to move around in their home (Picture: PA) has spoken with a number of families who have shared the devastating impact rising costs have had on their disabled relatives.

One dad shared his fear that his daughter will die if they couldn’t pay their energy bills, while others said life with disabled children had become ‘impossible’.

Dan Aspley is father to 14-year-old Callie who has rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata, a rare and severe form of dwarfism.

He said: ‘Everyone needs help right now, but those with the extra medical equipment and needs, they really need assistance. Everything we have for Callie is keeping her out of hospital and alive. 

‘You’re going to find that as more and more people can’t pay the bills, then their loved ones are going to be end up hospital or die. 

‘At the minute, Callie is still classed as a child and we don’t have to pay for all the medicines.

‘If this is going on in three year’s time, what kind of situation are we going to be in? How will we afford her meds?’

And disability rights campaigner Samantha Renke said she and other disabled people are paying for the cost of living crisis with their health.

She asked: ‘Will I have to cut back on care? Will I have to sacrifice going out and about because I dare not charge my electric wheelchair?’

Susie Braun, ITV’s director of social purpose said: ‘Our partnership with Scope seeks to highlight the support available to disabled people who are dealing with the life-changing impact of additional increased costs.

‘We’re delighted to partner with Scope once again on such an important initiative.’

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