Scope saw first hand the impact of the cost of living crisis on people with disabilities. Their Disability Energy Support Service, set up 18 months ago, has been providing advice and support to customers. Combined with the Better Off Calculator, the team has been able to create incredible impacts for their customers, improving their financial and emotional wellbeing.
Scope’s good news story of 2022
We have found that the Better Off Calculator provides the best system for our advisors to proactively provide income maximisation opportunities to customers. We have used other resources in the past, but have found the Better Off Calculator the clearest and easiest to use.
Laura Canning, Contact Centre Manager, Scope
Learn more about Scope’s good news story
Scope is the disability equality charity in England and Wales. We provide practical information and emotional support when it’s most needed and campaign relentlessly to create a fairer equal society.
Disabled people are being hit the hardest by the worst Cost of Living crisis in decades. The current high energy bills are making the situation far worse.
At Scope we know that life costs more if you’re disabled. Even before this current crisis, disabled people already faced extra costs of £583 per month on average. For almost a quarter (24%) of families with disabled children, extra costs amount to over £1,000 a month. There are many reasons why a disabled person’s condition would lead to higher energy usage. Vital equipment such as mobility scooters, ventilators, adapted cars and hoists need power. Washing machines and showers are used more frequently when conditions lead to needing to change clothes frequently. There can often be higher heating bills because someone’s condition makes it harder to regulate body temperature. Turning the power off is not an option and cutting back can have serious consequences for disabled people’s health and wellbeing.
Over a third of disabled adults feel that their impairment or condition has an impact on how much energy they use and 91% are worried about energy bills this winter.
The cost of living crisis is having a severe effect on the health of disabled people, with people forced to make choices that are detrimental to their health. Through our Disability Energy Support with Water Advice service, we want to help reduce the financial pressure on disabled people and improve their overall wellbeing.
18 months ago we set up the Disability Energy Support Service, a helpline specifically for energy and water queries. This sits alongside the general helpline which currently sees half of all queries being about benefits and cost of living related queries. Both phone lines therefore have a heavy focus on income maximisation.
Our advisors are sometimes having complex conversations and so being able to explain everything clearly is key. With all the information provided, the Better Off Calculator helps us to do that.
We are also part of the steering group for the Calculator which allows us to provide feedback on accessibility. It shows that accessibility is being taken into account, and that Policy in Practice is continually improving the Calculator.
The Calculator was primarily used by our Benefits Advisor who has promoted its use to colleagues. As such, our number of users are growing and so are the numbers of people we have been able to help through both our general helpline and our energy support helpline.
One customer had been struggling financially as her bills significantly increased. She has cerebral palsy, anxiety and depression, and uses a powered wheelchair which needs to be charged every night.
Our Helpline Advisor was able to support her when she called, and went through the Better Off Calculator with her. By reviewing her income and expenditure, as well as her benefit eligibility, the customer was able to go to Tribunal to contest the points previously awarded to her for Personal Independence Payments. As a result, her points increased from 2 up to 22, and saw her awarded with Personal Independence Payments until 2027.
She said that without the support and advice from the Helpline she wouldn’t have been able to do this.
Looking forward, we are keen to keep integrating income maximisation more fully into both of our helplines, so the use of the Calculator will help us to achieve that.