Disabled people among those worst hit by the energy crisis

Report highlights potentially ‘severe’ consequences for health.

Disabled people are among those hardest hit by rising energy bills, new research shows. 

A report by statutory consumer body Consumer Scotland found some disabled people are more likely to face additional costs, with potentially severe consequences for their health. 

In the case of energy, this includes the inability to pay for the charging of medical equipment, such as stairlifts, hospice beds, electric wheelchairs, ventilators, and hoists.

They may also find it more difficult to maintain their heating needs or undertake basic essential tasks such as washing, laundry or cooking. 

This is likely to result in consequences for mental health and general health, which in some cases can be severe - as well as greater risks for fuel poverty. 

The Health, Disability and the Energy Crisis report, based on a YouGov survey commissioned by Consumer Scotland, found:

  • Fifty two per cent of disabled people reported they were unable to heat their home to a comfortable level compared with 36% of non-disabled people
  • Forty seven per cent of disabled people reported that they were struggling to keep up with their energy bills compared with 29% of non-disabled people  
  • Forty seven per cent of disabled people reported that they had cut back on food compared with 32% of non-disabled people 
  • Seventy two per cent of disabled people reported the energy crisis had an impact on their mental health compared with 64% of non-disabled people while 68% also said the energy crisis was having an impact on their physical health compared with 54% of non-disabled people

Energy Policy Manager Grace Remmington said:

“Our initial evidence suggests disabled people may not be sufficiently covered by current social support or energy crisis support. 

“The findings have highlighted the need for the government and the energy sector to identify where there may be future opportunities to provide greater support for disabled people who rely on energy to meet their essential needs. 

“In the longer term, future affordability interventions should consider the fact that some disabled people face increased essential costs.” 

Consumer Scotland intends to conduct further work to improve data and analysis on the increased energy costs that disabled people face and potential mechanisms to provide support. 


Health Disability and the Energy Crisis 

Consumer Scotland’s report provides an initial assessment of the ongoing implications of the energy crisis for disabled people. The term disability in our report includes those self-reporting disability and may cover a broader group than those eligible for disability benefits.

It uses evidence from the Consumer Scotland Energy Tracker Survey and a call for evidence to the Scottish Energy Insights Coordination Group and provided by Inclusion Scotland. Case study evidence was also supplied by ENABLE Scotland and Euan’s Guide.

The data was gathered through a YouGov survey in November and December 2022 with a sample size of 1,621 adults aged 16+ in Scotland. The results were weighted to be representative of all Scottish adults.

Consumer Scotland is the statutory body for consumers in Scotland. It was established by the Consumer Scotland Act 2020 as a Non-Ministerial Office and is accountable to the Scottish Parliament. Consumer Scotland’s purpose is to improve outcomes for current and future consumers.