Quarter of MS sufferers unable to heat their home this winter

New research from the MS Society reveals that a quarter of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) won’t be able to heat their home this winter.

This figure rises to two in five for those who claim means-tested benefits, such as Employment and Support Allowance, as Ofgem lifted the energy price cap by 80% from October.

Over a quarter (25.5%) of people with MS claiming means-tested benefits are unable to keep up to date with bills or regular debt payments.

photo of gray oil heater

Anastasia Berry, policy manager at the MS Society, said: ‘Disabled people, including those with MS, are already bracing themselves for a tough winter, and today’s announcement on the soaring energy price cap is a catastrophe, which will add desperation to despair. Our research has found that a quarter of people with MS won’t be able to heat their homes this winter. And we know many are struggling to afford other essentials like food, transport and vital medication. Now, with energy bills set to skyrocket even further, more will be inevitably forced to breaking point unless urgent action is taken.

‘In these crucial days before a new Prime Minister is chosen, we desperately urge both candidates to set out their plans for supporting disabled people through the winter. This must include pausing benefit deductions to recover debts, and setting out an expanded cost of living package with further payments to those struggling the most. People with MS have told us they are nothing less than terrified, and we cannot afford for our next leader to abandon them.’

Kelly Green, 45, from Pontypridd in South Wales, lives with the relapsing form of MS and has two children. Kelly’s symptoms – including difficulty walking, balance issues, fatigue, and vision problems – mean she is no longer able to work. She claims Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) but the amount she receives is not sufficient to deal with rising energy bills – and has left her having to make impossible choices.

Kelly said: ‘Energy bills are going up so much and I can’t keep up with the payments. We’re in so much debt. The bill is £240 a month and I’m so behind on payments, I already owe £1,600 – I just don’t know how we’ll cope when it goes up even more.

‘I have to choose between feeding my kids and feeding myself. I often eat just one meal a day so that I can afford to give my kids three meals. Some weeks we haven’t had enough money for food and have had to use food banks. I feel so guilty because I’m not able to buy the kids anything or take them anywhere, it’s so depressing. I struggle with anxiety and depression, and the stress of energy bills is making my MS symptoms like balance and concentration worse.’

Photo by Alex Perz


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