Contact a Family is calling for changes to benefits rules that can stop carer’s allowance payments to parents whose disabled children are admitted to hospital for long periods.
The charity said this was a consequence of regulations on disability living allowance (DLA), which is suspended if a disabled child under 16 is in hospital for more than 12 weeks, or four weeks in the case of those aged 16 and over. If DLA payments are stopped, so too is carer’s allowance.
Claire Pimm, the charity’s director of policy and communications, said: “Children who have long-term health needs are often in and out of hospital and this puts tremendous pressure on their families. It is wrong that they are financially penalised at such a difficult time.”
Carer’s allowance is worth up to £53.10 a week and is paid to people aged 16 and over who care, for at least 35 hours a week, for someone who is receiving DLA at the middle or highest rate or attendance allowance, which is paid to older disabled people.
Child Trust Fund boost
Contact a Family is also urging families with disabled children to ensure they can qualify for extra government contributions to Child Trust Funds from April 2010.
The government will contribute £100 every year to the trust fund accounts of disabled children, with £200 going to severely disabled children annually, but children must be receiving DLA to qualify, as well as being born on or after 1 September 2002.
However, Contact a Family said more than half of families with disabled children eligible for DLA were not claiming the benefit.