Fury at welfare cuts
A MUM whose son has autism and epilepsy is backing a campaign urging the Government not to make further cuts to support for families with disabled children.
Annie Bannister, of Great Glen, says caring for her 12-year-old son Thomas is increasingly expensive and that Government cutbacks in recent years are putting families like theirs under mounting pressure.
She is getting behind the Counting the Cost 2012 campaign launched recently by Contact a Family charity.
The group is calling on the Government to exempt families with disabled children from planned cuts to financial support and to increase existing welfare.
Mrs Bannister said Thomas, who has a younger brother Felix, has what is referred to generically as Swan – or syndrome without a name – because doctors are unable to diagnose a specific condition.
“It presents itself as some level of autism. He has epilepsy, mobility problems and learning difficulties. It’s very difficult because inside he’s really bright. He has seizures and can’t walk more than about 200 metres.”
Mrs Bannister had to give up work 12 years ago to care full-time for Thomas.
The family receives disability and carer benefits and Mrs Bannister’s husband Andrew has full-time employment but say it is still a struggle.
Mrs Bannister said “The cost implications of raising a disabled child are absolutely huge.
“Families like mine are saving the state an absolute fortune by not putting their children into full-time care but the Government is cutting back on our support. We have one good income coming into the household yet we are still faced with tough financial decisions.
“We had to take out one bank loan in the last year to pay for essentials and for general survival.”
Mrs Bannister said cuts to local authority spending are also having a big effect, as schemes offering services such as respite for carers are reduced.
A survey by the Contact a Family charity of about 2,300 families showed 17 per cent of those in work could still not afford to heat their homes.
For families not in work due to their caring responsibilities almost a quarter admitted to missing meals and a third said they went without heating.
The charity’s chief executive Srabani Sen said: “It’s shocking that so many families with a disabled child are going without food and heating.”
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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