There are more than 30,000 more disabled children living in poverty in the UK than had been previously estimated by the government, according to The Children’s Society.
The charity has published a report today challenging the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) statistics on households below average income.
It claims the DWP has not taken into account the additional costs to households with disabled children and instead counted the child’s disability living allowance as part of the household income.
The Children’s Society recalculated poverty levels among these families by discounting benefits paid to cover the additional costs of living with disability from household income. This found that child poverty rates among families with disabled children went up from 36% to 40%.
It compares to a poverty rate of 30% across all children in the UK, showing that disabled children are disproportionately more likely to live in poverty.
These figures mean around 320,000 of the 800,000 disabled children living in the UK are living in poverty, more than 30,000 more than previously estimated.
Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: “These findings are staggering and very worrying. It seems that all forms of support for disabled children are seriously hampered when families live on a low income.
“Hidden costs, such as transport, heating and learning aids are forcing more disabled children and young people and their families into poverty.”
Reitemeier urged the government not to cut rates of support for disabled children under the Universal Credit. The report also called on the DWP and Office for Disability Issues to develop and implement a disability equivalence value for use when calculating child poverty levels in the UK.
Clear guidance was also needed to ensure all households with disabled children were taking up their full benefits entitlements, the charity said.
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