Families raising disabled or seriously ill children are “struggling to survive” due to the scale of the cost-of-living crisis, a charity said.
A survey by Family Fund of 4,264 families with a disabled child found that nine in 10 are struggling or falling behind on their regular household bills and many are forgoing living essentials, such as food and heating as well as basic household equipment, such as washing machines and fridges, to try to make ends meet.
More than half of parents and carers (54%) report skipping or cutting the size of their meals, a 9% increase since September last year, and 13% say they have had to cut back on items that are essential for their disabled children.
Four in five of the families (83%) are in debt with 40% reporting they cannot afford to keep their homes warm, a 13% increase since last December.
On average, families raising a disabled child live on £17,000 a year and spend 60 hours a week in a caring role, with one third caring for more than 100 hours a week, the charity said.
Fewer than one in four parents and carers are able to work full time with more than half not able to work at all.
The charity said the strain on families was “unsustainable”.
Family Fund chief executive Cheryl Ward said: “The outlook for families raising a disabled or seriously ill child is now graver than ever.
“They are unsure how to cope with ever-rising caring costs with winter approaching, they are having to borrow more credit to pay for intense levels of debt and feeling more isolated than ever with worsening mental and physical health.
“These are families on the lowest of incomes due to caring for their children round the clock and having far-reduced available support services post-pandemic.
“When caring costs have spiralled so far out of control that families are having to cut back on the very essentials their disabled child needs, something has to change.
“Along with our sector partners, we are urging Government to ensure that family benefits are increased in line with inflation rather than reducing at a time when the escalating costs of caring are already jeopardising families’ lives.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We know that living with a long-term illness or disability can impact on living costs which is why we are supporting six million disabled people with an extra £150 payment.
“This is part of the £37 billion package of support which will see eight million low-income households receiving at least £1,200 of direct payments this year.
“We urge people to check they are getting all the help to which they are entitled.
“The Secretary of State commences her statutory annual review of benefits and state pensions from late October using the most recent prices and earnings indices available.”
Content provided by Radio NewsHub. Originally published on 2022-10-07 05:09:00.