In these tough times it is important that the Family Fund continues to help families with the lowest of incomes who are caring for a severely disabled child or young person. The Family Fund also needs to ensure that its income eligibility criteria are fair to all families across the UK whether they are working or non-working.
In April 2010 the Fund took a first step towards implementing a new “fair to all” criterion. This change reflected feedback from working families, who felt that the Fund’s previous criteria penalised families who were working in favour of those who were not working.
Previously, the Fund had imposed an income limit on working families alone and families in receipt of benefits were automatically eligible no matter the size of their benefits. The new “fair to all” criterion aimed to put all families on a level playing field by taking account of all income coming into a household, irrespective of whether it was based on earnings or benefits
The Fund has now completed a three-month review of the change. This shows it to be well understood and broadly popular. However, there have been concerns, particularly in England, that the income limit remained too low for the new system to achieve its objectives of helping all families fairly. As a result, the Fund is delighted to announce that it has increased the income limit. It will also be applying the same limit in all four UK countries.
This means that from 16th August 2010, any family caring for a severely disabled child in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where household income is less than £28,000 will be eligible to apply for a grant.
Household income is defined as money coming into a household after tax and national insurance has been paid. This includes tax credits and the main benefits but the Fund will continue to disregard Disability Living Allowance and Child Benefit. Where a family contains a disabled adult carer, Disability Living Allowance for this carer will also be disregarded.
Derek Walpole. Chief Executive of the Family Fund, said:
“Our limited funding means we have to set criteria to ensure we are able to help families who need us the most. We listen closely to what families tell us and we are pleased that the new ‘fair to all’ system has been welcomed. We trust that raising the income limit to £28,000 and applying this equally across the UK will address any remaining concerns about fairness
“We know there are so many families that need our help and that families with disabled children are more likely to live in poverty than other families. We will continue to ensure that our limited funding is spent fairly and wisely. We negotiate hard with our suppliers to maximise every penny for the benefit of families and we remain proud that 91p in every pound of funding goes to families in grants.”