The Government’s Spring Budget fails to provide much needed support with energy costs for people at the end of life

06 Mar 2024

Today, 6th March, the Chancellor announced the Government’s Spring Budget, outlining the Government’s tax and spending plans.

Today, 6th March, the Chancellor announced the Government’s Spring Budget, outlining the Government’s tax and spending plans.

We welcome the measures put in place to help individuals in significant financial difficulty, such as the extension to the Household Support Fund and the removal of the £90 fee charged for a Debt Relief Order. These will help some households where someone is living with a terminal illness.

Facing poverty and financial hardship at the end of life

However, we don’t think these measures are enough. We are disappointed that no specific support for energy costs has been announced for the most vulnerable, which would include those with a terminal illness.

People should not face poverty and financial hardship at the end of life. But this is the reality for many; they may have to reduce their working hours or stop work altogether, or members of their household may have to do the same to be able to look after them at home.

An increase in energy bills

As well as a potential reduced household income, those who receive care at home will often see an unavoidable increase in their energy bills. A person’s energy bill can increase by as much as 75% after a terminal diagnosis.

This rise in energy use is partly because the house needs to be kept warmer than usual; this is important in helping people with a terminal illness to remain as comfortable and well as possible. The increase in the cost of energy bills can also be higher because of the cost of powering essential medical equipment at home.

Our polling

Sue Ryder polling (1) found that:


Over four fifths of people receiving end-of-life care have been unable to run essential medical equipment due to high energy costs.

The impact this has on patients who are dying has led to them needing emergency healthcare assistance (44%), poor pain and symptom management (36%) and a negative impact on their wellbeing (32%).

Energy must not be seen as a luxury

Ahead of the Spring Budget, we wrote to the Chancellor asking him to make people with a terminal illness diagnosis automatically eligible to be exempt from the 5% VAT added to their energy bills. Energy must not be seen as a luxury for people at the end of life. We also called for the introduction of a social tariff which offers discounted energy rates to include people with a terminal illness.

The introduction of these measures could help to reduce the significant financial burden faced by people at the end of life. It is disappointing that no targeted supportive measures for energy costs have been announced.

Having to make difficult choices

The end of someone’s life should be filled with love, friendship, and their favourite past times. Instead, many are having to make difficult choices about whether to keep warm, turn their oxygen machine on, whether they can afford to go to the doctor or if they can afford their medication.

The government has missed a key opportunity to introduce measures to better support people when they are at their most vulnerable in their Spring Budget. We urge the Government to address this issue before the upcoming election.


1) Sue Ryder research which took place in May 2023, where Censuswide polled 201 people aged 18+ who are receiving palliative and end-of-life care in the UK.

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