It's my immense privilege to look after the financial affairs of some of society's most vulnerable people, who through injury, disability, illness or older age can no longer look after themselves. Budgeting is key to the role I play and sometimes tough choices have to be made around what is affordable - and short-term and long-term impacts have to be carefully weighed in the balance. Being a financial deputy or attorney is not an easy job - but, with patience, the support of a great team and working closely with the vulnerable person, those who care for them and other professionals, it is generally achievable.
However, the increasing energy price cap is a real cause for concern. It's keeping me awake at night. For most people, the impact of price rises will be impactful and mean some tough choices lie ahead. But for some of our most vulnerable members of society, there is a serious risk of harm due to the impact of the current energy prices - which will only get worse.
Some of my clients - and many members of society - rely on medical equipment powered by electricity such as sats machines, contour beds, and ventilators to stay alive and healthy. Many more in addition are reliant on equipment such as powered wheelchairs to mobilise around their home and in the community. Even more people need consistent temperatures and require appropriate heating (and air conditioning) to maintain an ambient temperature. With winter looming, heating costs will increase - they always do.
Powering these essential items or having the heating on is not a choice, it's an absolute necessity. These energy requirements are not life and fun-enhancing - they are basic essentials.
Like many people concerned about energy costs, deputies and attorneys will be facing particularly tough choices ahead as they navigate the increased costs for their clients, family and loved ones. And as yet there are no obvious solutions. The energy price rises impact us all - but some of society's most vulnerable are even more at risk. And there must be urgent action to recognise and address this now and ensure that essential requirements and the health needs disparity is not ignored.
In the meantime, I'm reworking budgets, having difficult conversations with people about how we will need to adjust expenditure and having more sleepless nights than ever before - I can only hope the Government is too, and will find a way to offer support and provide protection.
Millions of households face an unprecedented 80% increase in their energy costs in October, taking a typical bill to £3,549 a year. Regulator Ofgem's new energy price cap means a home in England, Wales and Scotland using a typical amount of energy will pay nearly £300 a month. Charities say it could lead some people having to choose between heat and food. Ofgem boss Jonathan Brearley admitted that the rise would be "devastating for many families".