Sharp rise in disabled children going without essential therapy and equipment

Soaring cuts to welfare and services have resulted in more than a quarter of disabled children going without essential therapies and a fifth going without specialist equipment, according to a survey.

counting_the_costs This is leading to the increased ill health of the country’s most vulnerable children and their carers, according to Contact, the charity which conducted the survey, Counting the Costs. Over a quarter of the families surveyed said their child's condition worsened due to going without the basics and 60% of parents said it has made them unwell.  The survey also found: 
  • 33% of families have extra disability related costs of £300+ per month or £64,800 from birth to 18 (up 6% since 2014) and 10% of families have extra disability related costs of £500-£1000+ per month or £110,000 from birth to 18 (up 2% since 2014)
  • Only 19% say the disability benefits they receive cover the extra costs linked to their child’s disability or health condition. 56% say they partly cover the costs and 25% say they don’t cover them.
  • 36% said that changes to benefits in the past 2 years had left their family worse off (up 3% since 2014)
  • It’s not just specialist things families are missing out on with 40% going without birthday and Christmas presents.
Amanda Batten, CEO of Contact, said: "Disability costs have gone up while financial support has dropped away. At the same time the system of support for disabled children and their families has been hollowed out, creating a perfect storm. “These survey findings bring to life the consequences of all this. Crippling costs and cuts to financial support are affecting the health of disabled children and their parents across the country. "It is truly distressing to hear disabled children are going without essential therapies and equipment. These are not luxuries, they are essential to keep disabled children well and able to do everyday activities that others take for granted like eat, talk, leave the house and go to school." In response to the Counting the Costs 2018 findings, Contact is calling for:
  • The government to increase support towards disabled children’s extra costs by uplifting rates of DLA, stopping cuts to child disability payments under Universal Credit and investing in a campaign to increase take up of child disability benefits1.
  • The government, health service and local authorities to plug the gap in funding for disabled children’s services by setting up a Disabled Children’s Fund2 to increase free access to therapies and special equipment.
  • Employers to offer genuine flexible working arrangements to parent carers such as working from home options and time off for a child’s health appointments.
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