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Cost Of Living: Disability Charity Says Carers Are Skipping Meals

July 7, 2022

A national charity supporting children with disabilities says more than 90% of the families it helps are struggling to pay bills due to rising living costs.

Half of carers looking after disabled youngsters have skipped meals in the past 12 months to cut back on spending, a survey by Family Fund suggests.

A West Yorkshire family supported by the charity say they are “scared” they won’t be able to afford winter heating.

The government said it was helping families with disabled children.

York-based Family Fund said many families with seriously ill or disabled children faced higher energy bills due to the need to power home medical equipment.

Frequent GP or hospital appointments mean regular car journeys for many, including the family of 11-year-old Charlie, from Bingley in West Yorkshire.

“We can’t go on as many car trips because of how much the price of fuel has risen,” said Charlie, who has autism and learning disabilities.

“I wish none of this would have happened because I absolutely love going on car trips.”

His mother Katie Conway has a chronic lung condition and relies on home medical equipment, with Charlie using a sensory bubble tube to help him feel calm.

Mrs Conway, whose electricity bill has doubled in 2022, said: “We’re really affected by the cost of electricity because we use a lot with medical equipment, we’ve got less to spend on food.

“It’s really quite limiting, we’ve got lots of hospital appointments and, come winter, I’m scared we won’t be able to afford to have the heating on as and when we need.”

More than 1,060 families raising disabled children took part in the Family Fund survey, with participants reporting an average household bill increase of £1,500 during the past 12 months.

Two in five of the families surveyed reported they could not afford to keep their accommodation warm, with concerns the situation would only worsen.

Richard Hughes, from Family Fund, said: “They’re in a situation where it’s not even a choice between heating or eating, many families are telling us they’re going without both.

“We’re seeing an increasing number of families having to go without food or skip meals in order to provide for their children.”

In a statement, a government spokesperson said: “We know that living with a long-term illness or disability can impact on living costs, which is why financial support is available to those with disabilities or caring responsibilities and we urge people to check they are getting all the help to which they are entitled.

“We are helping low-income families with seriously ill or disabled children with £27.3m this year to help pay for equipment, goods or services.”

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