For the three million people living with chronic kidney disease in the UK, the cost of living increases in 2022 will be especially difficult. Many people were already struggling before, but the increases in the costs of utilities, fuel and food will push thousands of kidney patients into real financial hardship.
We are hearing from increasing numbers of home dialysis patients that they are having to choose between dialysing, heating their homes and putting food on the table – this is not acceptable. No one should have to choose between life sustaining treatment, heating or eating. Kidney patients have told us that they feel like they are being priced out of existence. No one should feel this way.
We are calling on policy makers, parliamentarians and utility companies to do all they can to help people with kidney disease who are facing huge anxiety about how they will make ends meet. Please see our Kidney Care UK Cost of living policymakers briefing which we have sent out to all MPs.
In 2022/23, the Government have announced plans to alter the Warm Home Discount Scheme in England and Wales. The eligibility criteria are changing so that non-means tested disability benefits will no longer be included in the list of eligibility criteria. Kidney Care UK calls on Government to urgently act to provide alternative financial support for people who would previously have received the Warm Home Discount.
Urgent support is needed for home dialysis patients
We are also highlighting to the Government the specific challenges of people who are on home dialysis and the impact of further increasing already high energy costs for this treatment and are calling for Government and NHS Trusts to act urgently:
- NHS trusts should ensure a straightforward, accessible system is in place to enable people on home dialysis to be reimbursed for additional cost of utilities, as set out in the UK Kidney Association's Home Adaptation and Reimbursement Guidance for People undertaking Dialysis at Home.
- NHS Tariff payments for home dialysis must be sufficient to cover all associated costs, including reimbursement for additional utilities usage.
- Government should work with energy companies to develop capped tariffs for people on medical treatments at home, such as dialysis. The precedent is set by the WaterSure scheme, which caps water bills for people in receipt of certain benefits who are high water users because of medical need.
- The Government response to cost-of-living increases and predicted energy costs rises must consider the impact on people with long term conditions who receive medical treatment in their own homes, and ensure any solution meets their specific needs.
- The Government should also develop additional targeted support for vulnerable energy customers, such as social tariffs and crisis financial support, prior to the additional energy price increases due in October 2022.
Share your experience of living with kidney disease and help us fight for better support
If you’d like to take action too, please make sure your MP knows about the challenges facing kidney patients and ask them to act.
An email is the easiest way to contact your MP (England), MSP (Scotland) or MS (Wales). Find your local representative's details on WriteToThem (just enter your postcode and follow the instructions).
To help you write your email, download our sample letter. Please add your own personal experiences to help really highlight the impact the cost of living increases are having on your life.
It would be really helpful if you could let us know what your Parliamentarians say (you can cc [email protected] in your email). If they do offer to meet you, we will be happy to help with that meeting.
Support our call to increase disability benefits
Kidney Care UK is also a member of the Disability Benefits Consortium, a coalition of charities committed to working towards a fair benefits system.
You can support our joint call to government to increase benefits by 8% in line with inflation, instead of the 3.1% planned, by sharing the statement led by the Child Poverty Action Group and sent to the Chancellor.
Take action on Twitter to share your views
You may also like to contact your utility company to ask them what they are doing to support vulnerable customers. If you are on Twitter, you could tweet them the following:
The rising cost of living means kidney patients feel #PricedOutOfExistence @kidneycareuk are supporting people but what are you doing @<inserthandle>?
If you are on home dialysis you may wish to also ask them about capped tariffs:
The rising cost of living means kidney patients feel #PricedOutOfExistence @kidneycareuk think all home dialysis patients (I am one of 5,000) should be on a capped tariff – will you ensure this is the case @<inserthandle>?