Almost a third of families with disabled children have taken out loans in the past year to help them afford basic everyday essentials such as food and heating, research has revealed. For those families where parents are in work, one in six say they cannot afford to heat their homes. For those families where parents are not working because of their caring responsibilities, almost a third (32%) have difficulty paying heating bills and almost a quarter (24%) told the survey that the extra costs of bringing up a disabled child meant they occasionally went without food.
The survey of 2,300 families conducted by the charity Contact a Family, which supports families with disabled children, also shows that 58% of these families fear their financial situation will worsen over the next year, with 73% of them saying they believe welfare reforms will make them poorer. The charity’s Counting the Costs 2012 report gives a sharp insight into the extra financial pressures faced by families bringing up disabled children, at a time when changes to the welfare system, central and local government cuts and dwindling revenues to charities are making support harder to access.
Around 41% of families have fallen behind with payments for gas and electricity bills, council tax, rent and mortgage, the survey revealed. Some 86% said they had gone without leisure activities and days out because of financial pressures. Of those families who had been forced into debt, 20% had taken out high-interest internet payday loans. The charity estimates that it costs three times more to raise a disabled child, usually because of the extra cost of transport and specialist clothing, food and equipment.
The report details the extra costs of raising disabled children excluding care, citing, among a long list, the cost of a specially adapted bicycle (£800) compared with a regular child bike (£79); the cost of a specialist computer mouse (£200) compared with a regular mouse (£20); and specially measured sandals (£120) compared with a high street pair (£34).
24th May 2012