Soaring energy prices leaving disabled lives 'hanging in the balance'

A Co Fermanagh family say their disabled sons life is hanging in the balance with soaring electricity prices.

Lee Wheeler, 37, has a number of disabilities and is able to live at home with round the clock care.

To do that he needs vital life saving equipment, all of which need electricity.

His bed, oxygen machine and nebulisers are all constantly on throughout the day.

Lee’s mum, Caroline, has told UTV the bills have been piling up.

“The average power bill is £50 every 6 days, so that is not even lasting a week now," she says. “During that last cold snap I was putting in £100 a week.”

Many households are conserving electricity and rationing what they can to lower bills.

For Lee, turning off and going without his equipment isn’t an option. Savings are having to be made elsewhere.

Caroline says: “He has already had payments and sure its gone, the whole thing has gone into power.

“This is life and death, we are siting here with two scales. Lee's life is hanging in the balance if he doesn’t get the power to his home in the winter."

Payments have gone out to people on income related benefits, disabled claimants and pensioners.

However, charities are concerned it is nowhere near enough.

Nuala Tooman from Disability Action says: “The fact disable people are having to ration access to life saving kit shows they are facing spiralling costs.

“That means that as winter approaches disabled people will lose their lives. The cost of living emergency is pricing disabled people out of existence.

“It means disabled people are living without dignity and having to choose between eating and breathing."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.