Petition to bring back cost-of-living payments hits 40,000

Published: January 15 2024
Last updated: January 15 2024

Grace Wood | The petition calls on the government to reinstate the Disability Cost of Living Payment

More than 40,000 people have signed the petition to bring back the Disability Cost of Living paymentsA petition to reinstate the Disability Cost of Living Payment has reached more than 40,000 signatures.

Hosted on the website, the petition began on 15 December 2023. Today (January 15), it has reached 46,813 signatures.

In November 2023 it was reported that the government had dropped the payments for those receiving certain disability benefits, including personal independence payments (PIP). A £150 cost-of-living payment had previously been given between 20 June 2023 and 4 July 2023 but was not paid out to disabled people in October, despite remaining for people on low incomes.

Many people with epilepsy qualified for the original cost-of-living payments because they were also receiving PIP.

The petition was set up by Thomas Howard who was inspired by hearing other disabled people talk about how they were being affected by the cost-of-living crisis.

Thomas said: “The cost-of-living crisis was always at the forefront of a lot of issues people were talking to me about. They were especially talking about the rising cost of energy bills and the impact that was having on their day-to-day lives.

“I have autism myself, so it was something I was quite passionate about. I discovered the government had been doing cost-of-living payments, but there was no plan to continue it. I thought: ‘Well, energy bills have just gone up by 5% this January, surely they should be continuing to help those most vulnerable in our society.’

“I thought, ‘Well, the government isn’t taking this seriously. Perhaps a petition is the best way to get their attention and to raise the issue and put it in the spotlight so they have no choice but to at least look into it.”

When Thomas set up the petition, his goal was to reach 5,000 signatures, but he soon had to reassess his target.

He said: “It just spiralled. A couple of people shared it and then it was a knock-on effect, more and more people started sharing it. It went from 4,000 to 10,000. The original plan was to send it to government when it hit 5,000 signatures but now I’m aiming for something a lot higher. I at least want it to get to 50,000.”

At the end of January, Thomas is planning to send the petition to chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt.

He said: “The aim is to say: ‘Look, there’s this many people you can’t ignore this issue any more.’”

Thomas said he was concerned about the lack of disabled representation in parliament and that because he had a platform on social media he felt a responsibility to speak out.

“Less than 2% of MPs in parliament identify as disabled,” he said. “So I feel like the voices and opinions of those with disabilities are overshadowed and forgotten by politicians. If I have a platform I should use it help other people.”

Writing on the site, Thomas said: “The reinstatement of this payment is not just about money; it’s about dignity, independence and survival for thousands across our nation. The payment, although far too small, acted as an essential lifeline that helped to cover basic needs such as food, heating and transportation.”

Epilepsy Action has advice to help people struggling with the cost of living.