Soaring numbers of families with disabled children are being forced to go without food or heating because they can no longer afford the basics, a major study shows.
Changes to benefits and the rising cost of living are forcing many of the country's most vulnerable families to cut back on essentials, according to research from Contact A Family. The situation is having a direct impact on their health in what campaigners dubbed "a national scandal".
Overall, 83 per cent of parents with disabled children say the family is now having to go without. Of these, almost a quarter say their child's health has worsened as a result, and more than two thirds suffered ill health themselves.
Welfare reform has come at a time when rising food and energy bills have pushed the finances of many families to the limit. For those with disabled children it is even more difficult because they often have extensive extra living costs, such as the need for warmer houses or heavier reliance on cars.
One third of families with disabled children are worse off as a result of benefit changes – nearly half by more than £1,500 a year, the report warns. Changes to tax credits, a reduction in help with council tax and the "bedroom tax" were the commonest problems reported.