Disabled children living in residential care could be prevented from seeing their families at weekends and holidays following the government’s welfare reforms.
The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that the mobility component of the disability living allowance (DLA) will be suspended from 2012 when an adult or child is in residential care.
The change, which will be implemented in October 2012, could see families lose out on benefits of almost £50 per week which they use to fund motability schemes or other transport costs.
Many families rely on the benefits to fund motability schemes or specially adapted cars to transport children to and from residential settings at weekends and during holidays, according to Contact A Family, which supports families with disabled children.
This financial help is equally essential during holiday periods when children may need to be transported to and from important medical appointments.
The charity is concerned that the changes will hit families hard. “Families with disabled children are more likely to be living in poverty, so can ill afford to take a hit to their family finances like this. The change could see families £49.85 a week worse off,” a spokesperson said.
Laura Courteney, campaign manager for Every Disabled Child Matters, said: “EDCM is concerned that the changes to mobility allowance will apply to disabled children who are in long-term residential care or residential schools. This would significantly restrict disabled children’s ability to spend time with their family outside of school or care, and to access community activities with their friends.”
Experts are expecting the benefits to be suspended when a child stays for longer than 84 days in residential care, in line with hospital rules. They are waiting for the government to clarify whether this will apply to both residential schools and residential care homes, and if a family’s motability scheme will continue until the end of the contract.
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