Counting the Costs
Why we campaigned
Our Counting the Costs 2014 report [PDF] finds that families with disabled children are going without the basics. This isn't new, but it's getting worse:
- The number of families going without food and heating has doubled.
- The impact for many is debt, stress, ill health and for some marriage breakdown.
- Millions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed by families because of myths about DLA rules [PDF] and the increasing stigma linked to claiming benefits [PDF].
- More than half (52 per cent) of families with disabled children are worried or very worried about Universal Credit (a further 40 per cent don't know how the changes to Universal Credit will affect their family).
What we wanted the Counting the Costs campaign to achieve
We want energy companies to:
- make sure all disabled children can get a £140 rebate via the Warm Home Discount scheme
- set up a network of consumer champions to help families with disabled children lower their energy bills.
We want the UK government to:
- increase the Carer's Allowance earnings limit in line with any future increase in the National Minimum Wage
- widen the higher child disability element in Universal Credit to include children on the middle rate of Disability Living Allowance care component and those on the high rate for mobility; Read our Universal Credit briefing paper [PDF] for more information
- increase help towards childcare costs for disabled children via tax credits, the tax-free scheme and Universal Credit.
We want more families to:
- understand what financial support is available to them, including Disability Living Allowance (DLA), and make sure they're claiming it.
What we achieved
- Over 1,000 people wrote to their MP to tell them how the UK government and energy companies can do more for families going without.
- The Warm Home Discount Scheme will from next winter offer standardise access to low income families with disabled children (and those with children under five). A positive step in the right direction but this discount should be offered to all disabled children.
- The tax free childcare scheme will be extended to recognise the higher childcare costs that many families with disabled children face (the first time extra childcare costs have been recognised in policy). Find out more in this tax free childcare scheme news story.