THE effect of rising fuel bills and benefit reforms is being studied by researchers in York who fear it could be leaving some disabled people unable to pay for fuel.

Sociologists at University of York are carrying out a one-year study funded by fuel poverty organisation the eaga Charitable Trust. It is hoped the research will go on to form policy recommendations for the Government.

Principal investigator Dr Carolyn Snell, from the department of social policy and social work, said: “At present there is limited and fragmented evidence on the relationship between disability and fuel poverty – a household’s ability to heat their home.

"This is worrying as policy is changing rapidly, disabled people tend to have higher energy needs, and are more likely to be in poverty already. These three factors together could mean that some disabled people are facing impossible choices when trying to balance energy bills and other budgeting needs.”

Mark Bevan, from York’s Centre for Housing Policy, said welfare reforms would mean that free grants for loft insulation or a new boiler were managed by the private sector in the future.

He said: “It will be important to ensure that such initiatives are directed towards a range of different groups who will need this extra support, including disabled people of working age and families with disabled children.”

Any organisation interested in becoming involved in the project can email Carolyn Snell at or Mark Bevan at