As the youngest of four, we knew from an early age, that our son was “different” “quirky” and had delayed developmental milestones. As his Mum, I vividly remember bombarding the health visitor and doctor telling them that this child was different from his older brothers. After many tests we were told he was autistic.
I could not return to work. This child needed me there full time, 24/7 as he struggled with night terrors and seeing the world through a unique point of view. I was able to claim carers’ allowance and my son to claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA), but with four sons I also needed my husband to help care for the family too so he decided to become self employed, working two jobs to be flexible enough to fit our son and the older boys needs into our lives.
Part of the “extra help” which Gordon Brown was quick to realise back in the early 2000s was that low paid workers who claim working tax credits and have a disabled child, need a bit extra money to cope with all the added costs that are incurred with disabled children. Currently as long as a child up to their 16th birthday is in receipt of either the High Rate (HR), Middle Rate or Low Rate Care Component of DLA the family receive a “Disabled Child Tax Element” on top of their Working Tax Credits. This element is paid at the rate of £57 per week for ALL disabled children. Many people with children ask why this top up is needed and I never tire of telling them:
Can your teenage child catch a bus? Yes? My son cannot. He cannot go on public transport without adult supervision because he may have a meltdown, get highly anxious, or be bullied for staring at people or asking people personal questions.
Tucked away in Universal Credit, is a little known clause on the Disabled Child Tax Element. The DWP, in order to save money on the welfare bill, have decided disabled children also need to be scrutinised. When UC is rolled out, only those children who are ” the most severely disabled” will continue getting the disabled child tax element at £57pw. These children must be in receipt of HR care DLA only. Those children who receive Middle Rate and Low Rate Care will receive half the amount at £28pw. It is also noted that the DWP say this is “per household” so people who may have more than one disabled child will lose out enormously, as the claim is based on one child only.
The DWP say the reason is to align adult and child payments thus removing the “cliff-edge” in the current system that exists when young people transfer in a planned transition to become independent adults. It has been noted by organisations such as The Children’s Society and CAB that those families most severely impacted will be those losing £30pw who have children with fairly severe disabilities who are in receipt of Middle Rate Care on DLA.
As well as this loss, families with disabled children have always been penalised with childcare costs if they work. Any childcare to enable a parent of a disabled child to work is as rare as hens teeth! This traps parents into being a full time carer on the measly £58pw Carers Allowance (which thankfully is not included under UC).
Take that support away as the government are planning to, and the outcome would be a lot different: less independence, less outside activities and a frustrated, angry child. I pity any parent with a baby or toddler with a disability who would like to work this year. I think this government may well take away your choice.
| 1 notePinkWaferBelle: Universal Credit and the Disabled Child.