Having a family is expensive, as most parents will probably attest too. In 2015, it was reported the average cost of raising a child to the age of 21 was £230,000. When you add a disability to the mix this expense quickly soars. Suddenly there’s the need to buy specialist equipment and extra clothes, pay for higher electricity and gas costs and fund trips to hospitals.
There’s also the fact that growing children need constant replacements, pushing costs even higher. This can put a financial strain upon families, and some people, especially those on low incomes, just can’t afford everything they need to provide the best possible care. In these circumstances it’s essential to turn to funding and grants for disabled children.
The Disabled Facilities Grant
If you need to make modifications to your home because of a disability, then you should apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant; a government payment which will allow you to make essential changes to your home. If your child is in a wheelchair, for example, you could have access ramps built and doors widened. You could also have a bathroom relocated, or a specialist wet room built to give your child more independence. All these things cost money, though, and this is where grants for children help.
Unlike applying for adults, your income will not be subject to means testing if you’re applying for someone under the age of 16. Your local council will need to send out an occupational therapist to assess your needs as a family and offer advice to support your application. Once you have a list of the required work and the relevant costs, you can apply for funding. If successful, your local council will decide whether money will be paid to you or to contractors directly, allowing you to have the changes completed to make home life simpler and easier for everyone involved.
Grants for children with disabilities are capped at £30,000 for England, £36,000 in Wales and £25,000 in Northern Ireland. In Scotland a similar scheme is offered via Capability Scotland.
Funding from Charities
Whilst the government can help with home modifications, there are various charities across the UK that offer financial support for everyday life. Some organisations will provide help for specific needs; learning disabilities or cystic fibrosis, for example. Others are more generalised in their approach to grants, and will offer funding for disabled children on a broader spectrum.
One of the most notable charities helping families is Family Fund. This organisation aims to help as many people as possible, from providing money for home accessories to giving the entire family a much needed break.
- Family Fund
Family Fund is one of the UK’s largest supporters of families with a severely ill or disabled child. There are a large number of grant schemes on offer, and these can help pay for children’s laptops, hospital visits, new washing machines and cookers, or special needs equipment. The charity also works closely with Travel by Inspire, Butlin’s and Haven to offer families free or significantly discounted holidays. This provides the chance for everyone to unwind, relax and reconnect away from the day-to-day struggle of raising a family.Family Fund has their own set of eligibility criteria, though if you don’t meet the qualifications you are still welcome to contact Family Fund to see if they can get help. Family Fund’s listed criteria are that:- You live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland
– You have lived in the UK for at least six months and have permanent residency
– You are the parent or carer of a severely disable or ill child
– You receive at least one benefit such as Working Tax Credit, Income Support, Child Tax Credit, Incapacity Benefit or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Numerous other charities and not-for-profit organisations also offer support for families with disabled children. Three of the best known are listed below, though there are many more who could offer your help.
- Action for Kids
Catering to children and young adults up to the age of 26, Action for Kids helps to support people develop mobility and pursue better independent and personal living skills. A variety of specialist equipment that isn’t available through the NHS can be provided, including car seats, trikes, walkers, scooters and sports wheelchairs. Though most of the items are gifted to you, powered wheelchairs are provided on a permanent loan basis so that Action for Kids can take care of the maintenance and repair costs.
- Lifelines 4 Kids
This charity offers help for children under the age of 18. A wide variety of equipment and resources can be provided, including wheelchairs, special computers and communication aids. To apply, all you need to do is send an email or letter to the charity talking about your child, their conditions and their needs. Lifelines 4 Kids will then get back to you for further information.
- REACT Charity
REACT is one of the UK’s largest charities focussing on support for families who have children with severe and life threatening conditions. Grants are provided to cover a range of needs, including medical equipment, household items, hospital expense and educational tools. The charity can also help with the costs of memorials and funerals.REACT also has six mobile home sites around the UK, and offers families the chance of a week’s break at one of their locations.
If you have a disabled child, you don’t have to struggle on your own. There is a lot of financial support available from the government and charities, particularly if you have a low income. You shouldn’t be ashamed of seeking support; instead look at it as a way to improve both the wellbeing of your disabled child and your entire family.