The Every Disabled Child Matters campaign today called on the government to launch a major take-up campaign on disability living allowance to tackle pervasive poverty among families with disabled children.
Only 327,000 children under 16 received DLA as of February 2006, compared to the 770,000 disabled children in the UK, according to the campaign group, which includes the charities Contact a Family and the Council for Disabled Children.
In a briefing paper, Every Disabled Child Matters said just 6% of families with disabled children were “comfortably off” and one in five families could not afford to feed their family properly, due to the added costs of bringing up a disabled child.
DLA, which is paid to adults and children to meet the additional costs of being disabled, is worth a maximum £109.50 a week.
EDCM called for the Department for Work and Pensions to invest in a major advertising campaign to increase take-up and to simplify the existing claimant form, but also said rates needed to rise by up to 50% to meet the true costs of children’s impairments.
The paper also called for the childcare element of the working tax credit for families with disabled children to be increased to a maximum of £300 per week, up from the current £140, amid evidence childcare costs are five times as great for parents of disabled children as for other families.
It said that it would be difficult for the government to reach its target to halve child poverty by 2010 and impossible for it reach its 2020 target of eradicating it unless specific measures are put in place to address poverty in families with disabled children.
Promoting choice, support and independence for disabled children is one of the five key aims of Community Care’s mission statement, voted on by readers.
A DWP spokesperson said: “The Government remains utterly committed to our goal of eradicating child poverty. We have already helped lift 600,000 children out of poverty and with the national minimum wage and child tax credits we are helping to ensure that the poorest families are getting the help they need to support and care for their children, but we know there is more to do.
“Families of disabled children often face additional costs and the Disability Living Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and the disabled child element in child tax credits are there specifically to help parents meet those costs. The Department for Work and Pensions takes very seriously its responsibility to ensure people are able to access information about the benefits and entitlements they are eligible for. People can find out information on the www.direct.gov.uk website and through calling our benefit enquiry line (0800 882 200). DWP is working alongside important groups like Citizens Advice Bureaux to ensure that people can easily access information on how to receive the benefits they are entitled to. We would recommend anyone who thinks they may be eligible for the additional help DLA can provide to get in touch with us.”
Interview with Phillippa Russell, learning disabilities campaigner
Ed Balls appoints Contact a Familiy’s head as special advisor
Essential information on childcare
See The Child Minder for a different view on Children’s Services
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Department for Work and Pensions
Contact the author