A group of 30 leading disability and children’s charities and other organisations has today become amongst the first to petition the government using the new DirectGov e-petition website, launched this week.
The charities, led by The Children’s Society, are aiming to get 100,000 people to call on the government to re-think its welfare reforms with regards to disabled children. Petitions which gain over 100,000 signatures could have their ideas debated in Parliament.
The government’s universal credit proposals mean that 100,000 disabled children could face having their welfare support cut by up to £27 per week. By the time a child born with a disability reaches 16, this could cost the family around £22,000.
The money is paid per child, so families with two disabled children could lose twice this much. Because this support is means tested, the poorest families are likely to be hit the hardest.
'Don’t let disabled children pay the price of welfare reform', argues that cutting support is removing a vital lifeline for many families, many of whom could be pushed below the poverty line by this change. Financial support is crucial for families with disabled children to help offset the additional costs of raising a disabled child and managing extra caring responsibilities.
The petition is supported by major charities working with hundreds of thousands of children and disabled people, including Barnardo’s, Mencap, Action for Children and the National Autistic Society. (See the full list of supporters below.)
Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive, The Children’s Society, said: 'We need the government to understand the significance of this change for disabled children and their families. 100,000 disabled children are going to face a substantial cut in benefits which could push them into poverty.
'£27 is more than half of a family’s average weekly food budget. For a low income family living on the breadline, this could mean the difference between meeting their children’s basic needs and finding themselves simply unable to cope.
'We launched this petition because we know that people power can make the government rethink this damaging change.'
For more information please contact The Children's Society press office on 020 7841 4422 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.
For more information about the issue, see The Children’s Society’s briefing paper.
The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children can be children, childhood is respected and every child is valued for who they are. Our approach is driven by our Christian values and by the voices of children and young people, who are at the heart of all we do.
This petition is supported by:
The Children’s Society
Action for Children
Ambitious about autism
Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion
Contact a Family
Every Disabled Child Matters
Family Rights Group
Leonard Cheshire Disability
National Autistic Society
Teenage Cancer Trust
The Communication Trust
The Fostering Network
Contact a Family
Child Poverty Action Group
Save the Children
National Deaf Children's Society
Catholic Children's Society (Westminster)