Tax credit extended to disabled children

Learning difficulties charity Mencap has
welcomed the extension of the eligibility of the child care tax
credit to parents of disabled children, which will entitle them to
help with the cost of child care at home.

The extension, announced in the Budget, will
mean child care tax credit can be claimed for child care provided
in the home by registered nurses and childminders.

Mencap has campaigned on this issue because
many children with learning difficulties require intensive support
and care that can only be met in the child’s home.

Mencap’s head of campaigns, Richard Kramer,
said: “These parents have little support to meet the immense costs
of child care, which needs to be done at home because many disabled
children are unable to access nursery buildings or do not live near
centres with specialist staff to look after them.”

But the president of Mencap has warned that
the new integrated tax credit will not act as an incentive for many
people with learning difficulties to work.

At the second reading of the Tax Credit Bill
in the House of Lords last week, Lord Rix said many people with
learning difficulties were often employed part time and worked less
than 16 hours a week. This meant they could not take advantage of
the new integrated tax credit, as it was only available to those
working 16 hours or more.

“Unfortunately, only a few people with
learning difficulties are afforded paid employment and working more
than 16 hours is not a realistic option for most of them,” Rix

“The government should look at alternatives to
encourage them to work, as it has acknowledged that people with
learning difficulties are one of the most marginalised groups in
the workforce,” he added.

The charity is urging the government to
consider two alternatives to the tax credit eligibility: a phased
entry that would enable claimants to gain a foothold in the labour
market by working less than 16 hours per week for a limited period;
and an increase in the income support disregard from £20 to
£35. This would allow people with learning difficulties to
work up to eight hours at the minimum wage without losing any
income support.

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