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Disabled children go without electricity and quality food in cost-of-living crisis

Disabled children are being hit the hardest by the cost-of-living crisis, according to a report.

Families with disabled children have to pay on average £581 a month extra to have the same standard of living as a family without disabled children, the equivalent of a £10,000 a year pay rise before tax for average earners.

These extra costs coupled with the added pressure that children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are more likely to come from low-income households, according to research, are being exacerbated by rising costs of food and fuel, says the Childhood Trust.

Its survey of social workers, charities, children with SEND and their parents found that the high cost of energy bills has left 58% of children with SEND without adequate heating while 25% said their family were unable to keep the electricity on.

Almost 70% of charities reported a rise in the level of children with SEND not having sufficient access to high quality food. Just over half of disabled children have missed school many times in the last three months due to the cost of living crisis.

In March 2022, the Government released a green paper aimed at responding to the needs of children with SEND.

Its proposals included the identification of needs and provision of support at an earlier stage and encouraging health, social care and educational services to work together. It followed up these proposals with further actions published in an additional report in March 2023.

But the Childhood Trust has several concerns. It says the reforms will take years to implement and do not address the cost and demand issues driving more councils into debt.

It added that unless the Government addressed the issues in good time it would lead to generational consequences.

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