The government will add an extra £100 a year to disabled children’s child trust funds, the chancellor announced in his April budget.
The savings and investment accounts were introduced in 2005, with the government allocating £250 to be put into a trust fund for every child at birth, with another £250 at the age of seven. The funds cannot be touched until the child turns 18.
But the chancellor, Alistair Darling, said that disabled children “need extra help to make the most of their potential”. He said the government would add an extra £100 every year to the child trust fund of every disabled child, and an extra £200 for every severely disabled child.
The extra payments will go to those who receive disability living allowance, and will start from 2010.
Srabani Sen, a board member of the Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM) campaign and chief executive of the charity Contact a Family, said EDCM’s members were “delighted by this significant investment in the future for disabled children”.
She added: “It is also recognition that disabled children and their families are at greater risk of living in poverty.”
But she called on the government to do more to tackle the high levels of poverty experienced by disabled children and their families, by amending the tax credits system to make work for parents a viable option, and improving take-up of disability living allowance.
The chancellor also pledged to “protect frontline public services”, by increasing borrowing and finding further public sector “efficiency savings”.
But the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies said afterwards that it believed there would have to be cuts to public services over the course of the next two parliaments, with public spending “squeezed tightly” over the seven years from 2011.
The government also said, in its budget report, that it would consult in June on its long-awaited green paper on reforming the social care system. It said there needed to be “a radical rethink of the way the state helps people with care needs”.
Meanwhile, although there was extra help in the budget for older people, through higher winter fuel payments, the government again failed to extend the payments to severely disabled people under 60.