A soaring number of families with disabled children are forced to go without food or heating because they can no longer afford to live, a shocking new report reveals.
Benefit cuts and the rising cost of living mean families with disabled children are having to cut back on the essentials many of us take for granted, the Independent on Sunday reports.
New research from the charity Contact A Family reveals how 83% of parents with disabled children say they have to go without , while around 25% said their child’s health has deteriorated. Two-thirds of parents said their own health has suffered as a result of cutting back on food and heating.
The report – Counting the Costs – also reveals that one-third of families with disabled children are worse off under the coalition, with half of those seeing their income plummet by more than £1,500 a year.
According to the report, changes to tax credits and the introduction of the controversial ‘bedroom tax’ are the main culprits for a loss in income.
The majority of parents with disabled children surveyed for the report said they had turned off the heating to save money. 31% said they had gone without food so they can feed their disabled child(ren).
More than a quarter of parents with disabled children had to find an extra £300 every month, because of the additional costs associated with looking after a disabled child.
Amanda Batten, the chief executive of Contact a Family, said: “Increased living costs and cuts to financial support have left some families with disabled children reeling.
“Despite the economy showing signs of recovery, families with disabled children are not optimistic about the coming years. Instead, they feel they are facing an increasingly precarious financial future.”
Dame Anne Begg, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “It’s a sad testament to our society that we’re not looking after the most vulnerable. It’s never been easy for families with a disabled child or adult but it has got harder.
“The economic downturn, the fact that benefits have not kept pace with inflation, and welfare reform have all worked together. A lot of these families have been hit by other changes in the benefit system such as the bedroom tax.”
Rachel Reeves, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, added: “David Cameron’s failure to tackle the cost-of-living crisis has forced families with disabled children from all corners of the country to choose between heating and eating.
“A Labour government will tackle the cost-of-living crisis by freezing energy prices, raising the minimum wage, giving incentives to businesses to pay a Living Wage, extending free childcare provision and scrapping the bedroom tax.”
A spokesperson for the DWP said the government was “committed to supporting the disabled and their families”.
Adding: “Our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families, with Universal Credit making three million households better off by £177 a week on average.”
Find out more: The Independent
Also From The Independent On Sunday: