Skip to content

Four In Ten Disabled Children Live In Poverty

October 7, 2011

Four in 10 disabled young people in England are living in poverty, amounting to a “staggering” 320,000 children. And the figure will rise because of government cuts to welfare payments, according to a report by The Children’s Society.

The charity’s analysis looks for the first time at the additional costs of caring for a child who might be paraplegic, infirm or seriously physically incapacitated, and concludes that the official poverty rates understate the number of disabled children in penury by a total of 32,000.

Counting on the basis of a disabled child living in a household with a disabled adult, the figure for those existing in poverty rose to 49%.

The Children’s Society says that benefit changes in the controversial welfare reform bill, now being considered in the House of Lords, will cause the disability component of child tax-credit to drop from £54 to £27 a week.

This change, which will cost the families of 100,000 disabled children £1,500 a year each, could begin when the government replaces the present benefits system with its universal credit scheme in 2013.

The Children’s Society said the statistics had been calculated by removing the disability living allowance (DLA) paid to families, to reflect the additional costs of bringing up children with disabilities.

Once this allowance was taken into account, child poverty rates among disabled children increased from 36% to 40% – 10 percentage points above the rate for all children.

The findings, which mean that poverty rates among disabled children are higher than government statistics have stated, have alarmed disability groups and sparked calls for a rethinkof the planned reforms.

More than 30 charities have launched an e-petition, called Don’t let disabled children pay the price of welfare reform, on the government’s website, which has so far received more than 5,000 signatures.

The petition argues that cutting benefits removes a vital lifeline for many disabled families who could be pushed below the poverty line.

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.

“It is essential that the government does not cut rates of support for disabled children under the universal credit. We believe that this cut in support can only lead to more disabled children being pushed into poverty and we are urging the government to review it.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said: “The government will continue to spend over £40bn on supporting disabled people. The changes we will introduce through universal credit will mean that severely disabled children will receive more support than they presently do under existing rules. Under universal credit there will be no cash losers for existing claimants.”

No comments yet

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: