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Man with electric wheelchair ‘frightened’ by prospect of real-terms benefits cut

Peter Wilson has had mobility issues for over a decade resulting from when he slipped on a patch of ice 11 years ago, which permanently damaged his spine (Peter Wilson/PA)
Peter Wilson has had mobility issues for over a decade resulting from when he slipped on a patch of ice 11 years ago, which permanently damaged his spine (Peter Wilson/PA)

A disabled man who is unable to charge his wheelchair as the cost of living soars has said he is “frightened” by the prospect of a real-terms cut to benefits.

Peter Wilson, 54, from Hull in East Yorkshire, is unable to work due to his disability and receives benefits including Universal Credit and personal independence payments (PIP).

Mr Wilson has had mobility issues for more than a decade after he slipped on a patch of ice 11 years ago and permanently damaged his spine.

His condition has deteriorated over time and he now uses an electric wheelchair, has a stoma bag, and suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis.

Man without a top, wearing glasses and looking at the camera
Peter Wilson said that the lack of clarity from the Government over whether more help will be provided for people on benefits is very worrying (Peter Wilson/PA)

Mr Wilson currently relies on a Micrel Rythmic pump to pump fluids around his body overnight but charging it daily, along with his wheelchair, is becoming more expensive.

“I’ve got to think about all the medical equipment that’s got to be charged during the day because almost everything I need runs on electricity,” he told the PA news agency.

“The batteries and battery pack have got to be recharged in the daytime so that it is ready for when the nurses come at night.

“I have to try and make savings elsewhere so I now spend more time indoors because I’m so scared about the cost of charging my chair.”

Mr Wilson said the lack of clarity from the Government over whether more help will be provided for people on benefits is “very worrying”.

Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng have so far not ruled out such a real-terms cut to benefits following last month’s tax-cutting mini-budget.

Earlier this week former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown warned it would be “immoral”, “unfair” and “unequal” not to increase benefits alongside inflation, which has soared in recent months to levels unseen in generations.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Conservative minister Penny Mordaunt became the most high-profile member of the Cabinet to back calls from Tory MPs to uprate benefits in line with inflation.

Peter Wilson using his walker
Peter Wilson slipped on a patch of ice 11 years ago, which permanently damaged his spine (Peter Wilson/PA)

Mr Wilson said the Government always wants to keep benefits as “low as humanly possible” and he is concerned that enough is not being provided for people with disabilities.

“They seem to want people to work, so they pay them less benefit,” he said.

“But then for people like me who are unable to work, we have to rely on what we get.

“I don’t feel like enough is being done to help us and it is all very worrying.

“The worry manifests itself in stress, I’m getting a lot more headaches and I do feel depressed most of the time.”

Last year Mr Wilson paid around £80 a month for electricity but his bills have now almost doubled, despite him making efforts to cut down on usage.

“My bills now cost around £140, even though I am using less than I did before,” Mr Wilson said.

“I’ve set the thermostat so the heating won’t go on unless it is very, very cold and I only use hot water to boil a few pans.

“I’m really frightened about what next month’s bills are going to be and it’s getting to the point where I’m going to start missing meals to be able to pay.

“Even though I have quite an energy efficient table-top oven, if I use it twice a day I know I am just burning through more electric.”

Peter Wilson's medical equipment (Peter Wilson/PA)
Peter Wilson’s medical equipment at his home (Peter Wilson/PA)

Mr Wilson is diabetic, has an intolerance to dairy products and also needs to stick to a low-fibre diet, which means he has to buy specific brands of food that cater to his dietary requirements.

However, this comes at a higher cost and means he is unable to purchase cheaper alternatives that could help bring down his monthly spend on food shops.

“My total monthly bill is £250 and it might sound a lot for one person, but things are so expensive with food intolerances,” Mr Wilson said.

“For example, I can’t get a lot of the savers products, such as bread, because I have to buy special free-from brands which are much more expensive.”

He added: “I don’t think I will be able to cope if food prices keep increasing along with gas and electric.”