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MP: Disabled people ‘should not have to rely on celebrities’ over energy support

Actress Kate Winslet helped a family with their energy bill (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)
Actress Kate Winslet helped a family with their energy bill (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

Disabled people “should not have to rely on celebrities to swoop in and save the day” over energy support, Labour has said.

Shadow minister Vicky Foxcroft raised the case in the Commons of a woman who was facing a £17,000 energy bill simply to keep her daughter alive.

She told MPs Oscar-winning star Kate Winslet had “stepped in and donated the full amount after being ‘absolutely destroyed’ by the family’s story”.

Speaking at Commons work and pensions questions, Ms Foxcroft said: “Many disabled people are having to make unimaginable sacrifices to keep life-saving equipment running in the face of huge energy bills.

Energy costs
Carolynne Hunter, who faced a huge energy bill, and her 12-year-old daughter Freya (Handout/PA)

“Now thankfully, Kate Winslet stepped in and donated the full amount after being ‘absolutely destroyed’ by the family’s story, but disabled people should not have to rely on celebrities to swoop in and save the day.

“So when will the Government finally ensure that every disabled person is receiving the support they so desperately need?”

DWP minister Tom Pursglove replied: “I’m appreciative of the shadow minister raising the issue of Carolynne’s situation and of course I’m under absolutely no illusions about how challenging the current circumstances and the climate is for many people across the country.

“That is why we are putting in place this package of support that I’ve already outlined, which is the right thing to do, as well as the discretionary help that is there to assist where there are particularly pressing needs in individual cases to address those and provide support.

“But she’ll also recognise that, for example, in the autumn statement the Chancellor announced that as part of the ongoing future work, we will be looking at things like social tariffs where we can perhaps provide even further help with these sorts of costs.

“I also want to look at what more we can do longer term to support families, to put them in a better position to be able to deal with those sorts of significant ongoing costs.”