Over the last two years, Social Finance worked with the Family Fund, Council for Disabled Children, Barnardo’s, Action for Children, KIDS, and others, to understand the financial needs of families with disabled children in the UK. We undertook two in-depth surveys and analysed the responses of over 6,000 families with disabled children. Our report, launched today, presents a detailed picture of the financial challenges and barriers that they face. It forms part of Social Finance’s work on financial inclusion, following on from our report into Jam Jar bank accounts published in April 2011.
Families with disabled children face enormous challenges. Pressures are considerable and varied, but include fatigue, strain on relationships, limitations on mobility and consequent feelings of isolation. Over and above these emotional strains, families with disabled children face real financial challenges. These include:
• Meeting the additional cost of care for disabled children; and
• Overcoming the barriers to finding, and maintaining employment.
Parents of disabled children face a higher cost of living due to the additional expense of providing specialist care. It is estimated that parents will spend three times as much raising a disabled child as it costs for non-disabled children. The extra spend includes items such as home adaptions, childcare, household bills, transport costs and medical bills.
Responses to the Social Finance survey indicate that 69% of families with disabled children are worried about their financial situation and 61% struggle to pay their monthly bills. Nearly three quarters believe that the high costs of caring for a disabled child are the cause of their financial situation. 82% of families with disabled children currently have less than £1,000 in savings; more than half have no savings at all.
Financial difficulties exacerbate other social problems such as unemployment, social exclusion and long-term illness. Families with disabled children represent a group with specific financial needs that differ from those of the UK population as a whole and which mainstream services are not currently meeting. Addressing this gap requires positive action from both Government and financial services providers.