This is one for those of us living in the UK. You might not have a disabled child yourself, but I urge you to respond anyway, please. According to Every Disabled Child Matters and Mencap, the government is proposing that the premium added to Child Tax Credits for a disabled child (currently £53.62 per week) should be halved to just £26.75 as a part of the new Universal Credit. That's a cut of £1400 per year, or £22,000 over a disabled child's childhood.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation calculate that a disabled child can cost between 3 and 10 times as much as a non-disabled child over the course of their childhood. Disability Living Allowance covers some of these extra costs, and for families on lower incomes, disability premiums on Child Tax Credits help with some others.
£26.75 a week doesn't sound like much perhaps. For us, that's slightly less than the cost for one session for one child at the only local playscheme which will take both my girls occasionally in the holidays. For a friend, that's the cost of replacing her son's coat because he's chewed through the sleeves on the school bus yet again. For some local families, that's the cost of the additional incontinence pads they are now forced to buy, the PCT having decided to ration children to just 4 "products" per day. For another friend, that's the cost of having someone meet her daughter after school occasionally, in order that she can give attention to other children - her Local Authority having decided their need is only severe, not critical. It's the cost of being able to keep the heating on and high enough to keep a fragile child out of hospital. It's out of season soft fruit, high fibre brown rice instead of Tesco Value, all the dietary supplements needed to keep immobile bowels moving and avoid the complications of constipation. It's taking that duvet to the launderette again, or replacing the washing machine when it dies, yet again.
The recent decision that the mobility component of DLA should be removed for people living in care homes has been overturned, the government apparently not having realised (really?) that people living in care do actually still need to get out and about and lead meaningful lives, and that yes they do in fact need vehicles in order to do that. Full credit to them for deciding not to implement that; please now help to encourage them to think again about the impacts of this decision.
Here's a link to the Every Disabled Child Matters form for emailing David Cameron and asking him to rethink this decision. Personally, we'll be alright here. But that's because we have adoption allowances, and by definition, birth families don't have that luxury. And nor do every adoptive family. And I know too many families who are turning every penny twice before they spend it. Cutting their income like this, whilst food and fuel and everything else continues to go up in price could well be the difference between coping and not coping. And not coping is going to cost the gov't an awful lot more than £26.75 per week, if that child ends up in hospital or foster care.