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Autumn Statement comment from Kids CEO, Katie Ghose

The Government’s decision to increase benefits in line with inflation will provide some relief to families of disabled children currently struggling to cover daily costs. We also welcome the extension to the energy price guarantee, and the increase in funding to schools, health and social care. However, given the extra costs of raising a disabled child, it will not be enough.

The real impact of the cost of living crisis on families

Over the last year we know that many of the families that we support have been grappling with the cost of living crisis. Rising prices have had a disproportionate impact on families with disabled children. The recent news story about a mother who is considering whether she would have to put her disabled daughter in care due to spiralling energy bills is heart breaking.

The government’s one-off cost of living payment earlier this year was welcome but it is not enough. The government must recognise the true scale of this crisis and the impact on families with disabled children and commit to adequately supporting them.

Across our services, we are hearing of families in increasing financial difficulty. Many are struggling to pay bills and are falling into or increasing levels of debt. One parent told us:

“I’m really feeling the financial pinch. Prices have been gradually rising for a while. Prices are really high and I’m worried about how I will pay the bills in winter. I’ve contacted energy companies and they just suggest I go on a payment plan for direct debit but I simply don’t have the money. I’m applying for any benefit I can but I’m already £600 in debt covering costs now.”

Disabled children and their families urgently need more targeted financial support. Alongside increasing benefits in line with inflation, raising the disabled child addition under Universal Credit and introducing a Disabled Child Energy Assistance payment are other ways the Government can alleviate their suffering.

Longer-term, this new crisis highlights an old problem: we urgently need to address the long-term issue of adequate financial support for disabled children, young people and their families to meet their extra costs, such as heating, transport or electricity.