Forty per cent of disabled children are living in poverty a report has claimed.
Analysis published by the charity The Children’s Society also shows that government figures on numbers of disabled children who live in poverty have considerably misrepresented the situation.
The Children’s Society puts the number at 320,000, over 30,000 more than government statistics claim.
More alarmingly, the report also says that, where there is another disabled person in the family, the overall numbers rise to 50 per cent.
The research was published following a report from the think tank The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) on the likely impact of the introduction of the Government’s new Universal Credit.
The main causes of poverty among families with disabled children are cited in the report as being the additional costs associated with having a disabled child in the family and meeting their extra needs and the inadequacy of welfare benefits, including Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in meeting them.
These costs include higher fuel bills, more money needed for transport including taxis, costs associated with personal support and learning aids for school.
One family featured in the report had, as one of its members, a child with Down’s syndrome. Her condition means that she needs the house to be kept warmer than might be usual.
The family receives the maximum amount of DLA, but the child’s mother says that this is not enough to meet, for instance, additional heating and care costs.
The Children’s Society report appears to confirm the fears of many disabled activists and analysts, disability groups and other charities that the introduction of the Universal Credit, and the later transitioning of people from DLA to the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is likely to have a disproportionate impact on disabled people, including children.
The Children’s Society analysis suggests that the move to Universal Credit could cut support for as many as 100,000 disabled children and their families by up to £27 per week.
Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society said: “The consequences of many more children being pushed into poverty are devastating. Our own research reveals that a decrease in income results in low well-being. Children in households where income has fallen are likely to be twice as unhappy as those in homes where income has risen. They are at greater risk of having mental health issues and may also perform badly at school.
Commenting specifically on the findings relating to disabled children, he said: “It seems that all forms of support for disabled children are seriously hampered when families live on low income. Hidden costs such as heating, transport and learning aids are forcing more disabled children and their families into poverty.”