Pledge to address parents’ debt crisis

Ways to address the financial difficulties faced by disabled
parents are to be considered.

Lord Geoffrey Filkin, parliamentary under-secretary at the
Department for Education and Skills, told a conference on disabled
children that the issue was “firmly on the agenda for

A delegate told Filkin that some older parents of disabled children
faced debts of £40,000 and were having to return to paid

Filkin said the government was “very aware” of the need to stop
such levels of debt being accumulated by younger parents with
disabled children.

Earlier this month, a coalition of disability and children’s
charities, including Mencap and NCH, called on the government to
help families to care for their disabled children at home by
improving grants for housing adaptations.

The coalition, which says it has been prompted into action by
stories of desperation, wants the abolition of the means test for
families applying for the disabled facilities grant. Members say
the test is forcing many parents to choose between going into debt
or not making the necessary changes to their homes.

The coalition makes the comments in a submission to a review group
set up by the government to look at the grant process. It will
report to ministers in May 2005.

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