Don’t let disabled children pay the price for welfare reform
25 national organisations including the Children’s Society, the TUC, Barnardo’s and Action for Children have come together to call for a change in the Government’s plans for a substantial cut to welfare support for disabled children under the new “Universal Credit”.
The new system will result in many of these children losing up to £1400 per year (£27 per week) compared to the current system – by the time a disabled child reaches 16, this could cost the family £22,000. In total the Government estimates that 100,000 disabled children would lose out under this change – other estimates suggest the number could be considerably higher. We know from our own experience at the Children’s Society, that many of the children with whom we work would have their support cut as a result of this change.
Antony Best, 23, from Bradford, is a full-time father after losing his wife to swine flu last winter. He has three children to look after and two of them also have a disability. Casie, 4, has Down’s syndrome, while her eight-month-old brother, Alfie, has cerebral palsy.
Antony is already relying on family and friends to help him out with caring from time to time and his budget is at breaking point. He receives £197 a month from the tax credit and disability allowance systems.
I can spend more than that just getting the basics for the kids, and that is before I have thought about feeding myself, he said.
Any cut to what we survive on now would have a real impact on our living. So many of the things we need every day, like milk for my youngest and nappies, are already more expensive . . . We just about manage.
Financial support is crucial to help these families with the costs of raising a disabled child and manage their extra caring responsibilities. £27 is more than half the average family’s food budget – enough to mean the difference between a family meeting their child’s basic needs, and being left simply unable to cope.
The Comprehensive Spending Review announced that £2 billion will be set aside over the next four years for the introduction of the Universal Credit. At a time of strict financial constraints, we believe that the Government cannot justify a commitment to such additional spending, if it fails to support the most vulnerable families with disabled children.
Please help if you can:
- sign the petition now and
- promote it on your Facebook, Linked In and Twitter accounts.
We have a one-off opportunity to make a real and important change for disabled children and young people; together we really can make the Government think again on this.