Parents of disabled children furious at cuts to allowances

Families say Government has to rethink sweeping reforms that will plunge vulnerable into poverty

Six-year-old Rhys Ford loves to go horse-riding. He has autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and hypermobility, a condition of the joints which means he needs a wheelchair to get around.

Rhys's parents use part of his disability living allowance (DLA) to pay £20 a week for his classes at a riding school because horses make him feel calm. But from next April, Rhys and nearly 200,000 other disabled children will no longer be eligible for DLA top-up payments which cover the extra costs that improve their quality of life and help children to reach their potential.

Emma and Chris Ford, of Horsham, West Sussex, are full-time carers for Rhys and their two other disabled children, Martin, seven, and three-year-old Caitlin. They say they feel scared, because the family will lose £200 a month unless the Government drops what has become one of the most controversial proposals of its sweeping welfare reforms. "I have no idea what we can cut out," Mrs Ford said yesterday.

Disability charities such as Contact a Family are urging the House of Lords, which will today debate the Welfare Bill for the last time, to reject the reduction in top-up payments for disabled children on lower and middle rates of DLA. The charity's analysis has found that these cuts, along with subsequent changes to housing benefit, will leave tens of thousands of families with disabled children up to £3,000 a year worse off. A coalition of charities called Every Disabled Child Matters says the Government has failed fully to assess the impact of the proposal, which it claims will plunge thousands of families with disabled children into poverty.

The top-up payments were designed to meet additional costs, such as transport, heating, laundry, nappies and extra clothes that families have because of a child's disability. The Department for Work and Pensions insists the introduction of a new Universal Credit payment will simplify the system and "there will be no cash losers". Those children with higher rate DLA top-ups will not be affected.

But David Congdon, of the learning disability charity Mencap, said: "There is a lot of anger and incredulity about this because it is not a matter of speculation. It is clear that large numbers of families will lose a lot."

Campaigners, and a growing number of MPs and peers, hope to trigger a second U-turn after the Government scrapped plans to cut mobility allowances for some elderly people last month. This would have left thousands of care-home residents unable to afford trips to libraries or social clubs.

Mrs Ford said: "I am trying to help my children develop so that one day they can live on their own, and work hopefully. If I can't provide those interventions now, they may well be destined for a lifetime on benefits and I don't want that for them."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
News
British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking
people
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This design and print company a...

Recruitment Genius: Lift and Elevator Contract Manager - London

£38000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Engineer - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Engineer is required to...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Hull - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum + £4200 car allowance: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Suppo...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence