7 Oct 2011

Four in ten disabled children in the UK - a staggering 320,000 - are living in poverty, reveals a new report by The Children’s Society. 

Nearly a third of those 320,000 are living in severe poverty. Alarmingly, when a disabled adult also lives in the household, around half of all disabled children will be living in poverty.

The Children’s Society report  ‘4 in every 10 disabled children living in poverty’ makes key recommendations to ministers detailing how families can be lifted out of poverty, including urging the Government to make sure that all families with disabled children are aware of, and able to take up, their full entitlement to benefits. 

The charity is also calling for government to do more to help these families, including placing pressure on decision-makers to rethink welfare reforms, which would see over 100,000 disabled children lose up to £27 per week following the introduction of the Universal Credit.

The organisation has already, in collaboration with 30 major national charities, launched a petition and have received over 5000 signatures so far. The petition “Don't let disabled children pay the price of welfare reform”, argues that cutting benefits removes a vital lifeline for many disabled families who could be pushed below the poverty line as a result.  As this report shows, four in 10 disabled children and their families are already living below the line. Cutting this support will merely force more families into poverty – families who often need the most support.

New analysis in the report shows how additional costs of caring for a child with a disability – which has not been accounted for in previous analysis - mean that poverty rates amongst disabled children are higher than government statistics have previously stated. 

Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society said:”These findings are staggering and very worrying. It seems that all forms of support for disabled children are seriously hampered when families live on a low income. Hidden costs, such as transport, heating and learning aids are forcing more disabled children and young people and their families into poverty.

"It is essential that the government does not cut rates of support for disabled children under the Universal Credit. We believe that this cut in support can only lead to more disabled children being pushed into poverty and are urging the government to review it."


Media enquiries

For further information please contact Lorna Harris in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or at lorna.harris@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.


Notes to Editors

  • The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.
  • The charity have reviewed the most recently available data to determine the proportion if disabled children living in poverty in the UK. Critically, they use a new methodology which takes into account the additional costs faced by households with disabled children.
  • Findings indicate that once additional disability related costs have been accounted for:
  1. 40% of disabled children live in poverty (live in households on less than 60% of median income after housing costs).  This is around 320,000 disabled children.  This compares to 30% of all children.
  2. 49% of disabled children with a disabled adult in their household live in poverty.
  3. 14% of disabled children (110,000) live in severe poverty (live in households on less than 40% of median income after housing costs).
  • Summary of recommendations
  1. Official Child Poverty statistics should reflect the additional costs of raising a child with a disability
  2. The government needs to ensure all households with disabled children take up their full entitlement to disability benefits
  3. The Child Poverty and Social Mobility Commission and the Officer for Disability Issues should work together to establish and implementation plan for eradicating poverty amongst disabled children by 2020.
  4. The government must not cut rates of support for disabled children under the Universal Credit. The charity believes that this cut in support will lead to more disabled children being pushed into poverty and call on the government to review it.