Disabled young person

The widespread disturbances in London this weekend will undoubtedly raise questions about the violence's causes, particularly the impact of the recession and spending cuts on young people. Nobody doubts that the cuts have left everyone who works with children and young people having to be more far more careful with their budgets. Even the prime minister has acknowledged that in the age of austerity, things are going to be tough.

What is unknown, and proving to be highly contentious, is how the cuts will play out. Will they be fair and be borne by those with the broadest shoulders and not just the weakest, as the government claims? Or will they disproportionately fall upon children and families most in need, pushing more families into poverty?

'Dramatic long-lasting consequences' of budget cuts

Each week there is a drip feed of new information. The latest news comes from False Economy, which has found that reductions in council spending are hitting children and young people's charities the hardest. Almost 400 have experienced cuts of at least 5 percent and some have seen their funding completely withdrawn. Overall it is estimated that charities face funding reductions of more than £110m this year.

Council youth services seem to be particularly at risk. The Confederation of Heads of Young People's Services reports that £100m was cut from services in 2010/11. So far this financial year it says cuts are averaging 28% with some authorities cutting as much as 80% of youth services. A parliamentary inquiry into youth provision last month warned that budget reductions could have 'dramatic long-lasting consequences'.

Children with additional needs will be worse off, analysis shows

But for the families on lowest incomes it is changes to the benefit system which could have the greatest immediate impact. The government's new universal credit is intended to radically reform the welfare system to make it simpler and to ensure work pays for those on low incomes.

But our analysis has found that the reforms will leave many of those children with additional needs worse off. We are particularly concerned about the impact for disabled children who 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. And because the support is means tested, the poorest families are likely to suffer the most.

Sign our petition, 'Don't let disabled children pay the price of welfare reform'

In collaboration with 25 major national charities, we've launched a petition, 'Don't let disabled children pay the price of welfare reform', which argues that cutting benefits removes a vital lifeline for many disabled families who could be pushed below the poverty line as a result. For these families, financial support is crucial to help offset the additional costs of raising a disabled child and managing the extra caring responsibilities.

Sign our petition, 'Don't let disabled children pay the price of welfare reform'.

So for now it may not be clear exactly how cuts to council services will affect the lives of families and children. But we believe there is greater clarity about the likely impact of significant changes to the benefit system. And in our mind there is little doubt that many disabled children will be left worse off.

By Enver Solomon, Policy Director at The Children's Society

By Enver Solomon - Policy Director
Enver Solomon
- Policy team

Comments

Hi Sam, Many thanks for your comment. What is notable about this change is that the savings made from this welfare cut for disabled children will be recirculated within other parts of the new "Universal Credit" benefit (in particular support will be moved from disabled children to increase support for one group of disabled adults.) As such it should be possible to reverse this cut without substantial additional cost - we believe it is vital that the Government make this change. The Comprehensive Spending Review announced that £2 billion will be set aside over the next four years for the introduction of the Universal Credit. At a time of strict financial constraints, we believe that the Government cannot justify a commitment to such additional spending, if it fails to support the most vulnerable families with disabled children. I hope this helps with your question and that you are able to sign our petition. All the best, Sam
I am lucky (so far) not to have children with disabilities. However, I work with young people with disabilities and I agree wholeheartedly that funding should remain for these children.
All very laudable but please ask yourself " where is the money going to come from " Should the government protect the most vulnerable ie the disabled and the very elderly by making a further 20,000 / 25,000 public sector workers redundant ? That would release approx £500m annually to care for our societies most vunerable people . Or should all refugees / new immigrants be cared for by our leading charities in large hostels , being given basic accomodation and 3 meals each day , but no allowances for mobile phones , vouchers for clothes etc. The UK economy is just like a large cake . If any one sector takes too big a slice , everyone else must manage on less ! As a caring Christian , I would like to hear how we can care for everyone with real needs. Remember also that St Paul stated that " if a man WILL not work , he shall not eat " . If someone is too ill to work , they must be cared for but there is no choice for everyone else , or is there another way ? Sam

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