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07.10.11

Disabled children living in poverty

Many disabled children in the UK are living in poverty, according to research by the Children’s Society. The Government is planning changes to welfare benefits, which the society says could harm disabled children.

Four out of ten disabled children in the UK are currently living in poverty, which is defined as an income of less than 60% of the national average. Out of the total population, one in three children lives in poverty.

The Welfare Reform Bill is nearing its final stages in parliament, and in 2012 will introduce a single monthly payment, known as Universal Credit, to replace a range of benefits. The Children’s Society suggests these changes mean over 100,000 disabled children could lose up to £27 per week.

Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of the Children's Society, said: “These findings are staggering and very worrying. 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 we are urging the government to review it.”

However, a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “The government will continue to spend over £40bn on supporting disabled people. The changes we will introduce through Universal Credit will mean that severely disabled children will receive more support than they presently do under existing rules.

“Under Universal Credit there will be no cash losers for existing claimants where their circumstances remain the same. Our radical welfare reforms will benefit the poorest in society and target support at those who need it most to make work pay and break the benefits trap.”

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