Contact Campaigns Manager speaks to Work and Pensions Committee poverty inquiry

Thursday 13 May 2021

Disabled children, and the extra costs incurred by their families, should be included in any measures, targets or plans around child poverty, our Campaigns Manager Una Summerson told a parliamentary inquiry into child poverty this week.

Speaking at the Work and Pensions Committee yesterday, Wednesday 13 May, Una also highlighted the impact both the coronavirus pandemic and benefit cuts are having on the finances of families with disabled children, including the £1,800 that more than 100,000 families stand to lose under Universal Credit.

She talked about the impact of removing the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit and the many families with disabled children who were never given any financial support over the pandemic. And she highlighted the vital role Contact plays in helping families claim benefits through our family finances helpline team, which last year helped over 1,000 families find out their entitlement to financial support.

The National Disability Strategy will soon be published, and Una said that this should include actions to reduce the numbers of disabled children living in poverty. Suggestions for what the government should do include:  

  • Make it easier for disabled young people in education to claim Universal Credit.
  • Boost help towards heating costs, such as by introducing a disabled child winter heating payment similar to the one in Scotland.
  • Fix the Carer’s Allowance earnings limit so that it’s linked to National Living Wage increases.

Finally, Una told the committee that the government must account for the needs of disabled children and their families within child poverty measures. For that reason, we support the Social Metrics Commission’s poverty measure. This measure accounts for both the extra costs that come with being disabled, and the extra costs of having children.

Una spoke at the session alongside charities StepChange and the Independent Food Aid Network. The committee also heard from local government representatives.

You can watch the sessions on Parliament TV: Work and Pensions – Committees – UK Parliament.