Here are some other benefits and grants that can be very useful for families with disabled children or children with special needs.
Lots of us have found the Family Fund a great help financially for one-off payments for specific things. Some families have had grants for washing machines, fridges, beds, telephones, outings and holidays in the UK or even abroad. The fund is for families on low incomes with children aged 17 or under, with severe disabilities.
Although the Fund will consider most requests, they give priority to people whose social or financial needs are greatest. The Family Fund cannot help fund equipment or services that are the responsibility of health or social services to provide. You cannot get help for a child who is in the care of their local authority. The Family Fund produces an information leaflet with up-to-date details of how to apply, and who is likely to be eligible.
You can get an application form by writing to the Family Fund at Unit 4, Alpha Court, Monks Cross Drive, York Y032 9WN or by ringing 08449 744099. Alternatively, you can apply online at www.familyfund.org.uk. Amaze also keeps copies which we can send to you.
You may want to ask your health visitor, social worker or Amaze to support your Family Fund application. When you apply, you will need to give details about your child, what help you need and whether you’ve asked for a grant before. The Family Fund will ask you for details of your income and may contact your consultant asking for more information about your child’s disability or medical condition. The first time you apply, a family support worker may arrange to meet you and your child at home, to get a better picture of your needs. This meeting is informal and sometimes they may suggest things the Fund can help with, that you may not have thought about asking for. You can ask for help each year and you can ask for help with more than one thing.
Managed locally by Jobcentre Plus, the Social Fund makes Budgeting Loans, Sure Start Maternity Grants, Funeral Payments, Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Payments. There are different eligibility rules for each sort of payment.
A Budgeting Loan is intended to help spread the cost of essential one-off expenses that are hard to meet from weekly benefits. You can apply for a loan if you’ve been getting income-related benefits like Income Support, JSA or ESA for at least 26 weeks.
Budgeting Loans are interest-free so you only pay back what you borrow. But you normally have to repay the loan within two years so budgeting for repayments can be difficult.
In practice a Budgeting Loan can be very hard to get; there is no legal entitlement, payments are discretionary and the budget limited. If you are successful the amount you get is decided by the decision maker at Jobcentre Plus. You can find out more and download application forms from www.gov.uk. Or locally, you can contact Brighton or Hove Jobcentre Plus.
This is emergency help for things you cannot do without and need very urgently, for example food, gas or electricity. You will need to show that something unexpected has happened, like a fire at your home or being burgled, so that you cannot pay for these things yourself. Requests will be assessed within one working day.
The fund may also be able to help with essential items like mattresses, cookers and fridges but you will need to show that your family cannot do without them. Requests are assessed within five working days.
There are no cash awards. To make best use of very limited funds help is given as vouchers. These can be redeemed at supermarkets and stores that recycle furniture and white goods or used to pay for unavoidable journeys.
For more advice, contact the Discretionary Help and Advice Team by emailing [email protected] or by calling on 01273 293117.
If you’ve had to adapt your home especially for your disabled child, your council tax bill could be reduced to that of a house in the band immediately below yours. If your house is already in the lowest band (A) you get a reduction of one sixth of your bill. The sort of adaptations that might make the difference are:
- additional space for a wheelchair to be used indoors (like widening doors, corridors, removing partition walls)
- an extra room to meet special needs (for example, a downstairs bathroom/toilet).
Council Tax Discount Scheme
Where there are fewer than two adults resident at your home, you can get a discount on your council tax bill. This is worth 25% if there is one adult and 50% if there are no applicable adults. Not all adults are counted for council tax purposes. Young people aged 18 or over getting DLA at the middle or highest rate for care are disregarded. So it’s worth checking!
Call Brighton & Hove Council Tax office on 01273 291291 or visit the council’s website to make an application for a reduction in your council tax band or a discount on your bill. If you have missed out in the past, you can ask for either of these to be backdated to the date they first applied.
Hospitals have someone who deals with reimbursing fares on the spot. If you drive, any unavoidable parking charges and a mileage allowance should be reimbursed. You will need to show receipts, the appointment letter and proof of qualifying benefit, tax credit exemption certificate or your certificate showing you qualify for the NHS Low Income Scheme. You can also claim travel costs by downloading form HC5 from www.nhs.uk
If your child cannot travel on buses or trains or using public transport is impractical contact your child’s hospital well ahead of the appointment. Your hospital social worker or the consultant’s secretary should be able to help you find out whether your child can get an ambulance, hospital car transport, or help with taxi fares. The Family Fund will also consider requests for help with travelling costs to and from hospital whilst your child is in hospital. Download our fact sheet Download our fact sheet ‘Help with transport’ for more information.
It can only be used in Ofsted registered provision. This is more likely to be an after school club or holiday play scheme, but could be with a child minder or an at home child carer. The application is made jointly by you and the child care provider. Get your childcare provider to apply. There are eligibility criteria and financial limits to the fund. To find out more, contact the City Early Years and Childcare Team on 01273 293523