'My legs sting from the cold': Vulnerable people have suffered a freezing winter

Samantha Forster has not turned on her heating all winter, and she's been left housebound as she can't afford to repair her wheelchair, ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports

It’s a pretty stark image of the impact of the cost of living crisis on disabled households, an electric wheelchair, unused in the corner of a bedroom.

It used to be how Samantha Forster would get out and about, but since her energy bills skyrocketed she has been not able to repair or charge it.

When I visited her at home she told me the impact on her life had been dramatic.

She’s now pretty much housebound.

Samantha Forster at home.

In the Autumn Statement of 2022 the chancellor promised to look at bringing in a cap on the energy tariff paid by vulnerable households.

A pledge that the prime minister repeated. Since then nothing.

For Sam, that has meant a winter without being able to afford to turn the heating on at all.

Ahead of the budget on Wednesday, 27 MPs and peers have signed letter asking the prime minister to make good on that pledge.

“Prime Minister, words matter - commitments made by you and your ministers matter," they write.

"It is therefore extremely disappointing that your government has gone back on its word to run a consultation on reforming the energy market."

The disabled charity Scope want the tariff to be included in the Budget along with an increase in disability benefits of £12 a week.

They say that modest uplift would lift 115,000 disabled people out of poverty.

We wanted to speak to the Minister for Disabled People, Mims Davies, for our report, but she was unavailable.

Tom O’Connell said he has felt huge financial pressures since becoming disabled.

The Department of Work and Pensions points out that disability benefits are due to go up by 6.7% in April.

That will keep them roughly in line with inflation.

Tom O’Connell, who is only recently disabled, has a very vivid image of the crushing financial pressure of entering that world.

He had to give up a fulfilling job that gave him and his family financial independence, and says being reliant on disability payments is like being in a cage that is shrinking all the time.

It’s hard not to think, "this is your value" if that is all you are given, he told me.

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