All parents may find caring for a child puts a strain on their household budget. If you are caring for a child with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), this strain might be particularly large. Specialist equipment and services, transport, and extra day-to-day costs can all add up. You may also have had to cut-down on how much you work to provide support for your child.
In order to help you maintain financial security and deliver the best care for your child, there are a wide range of funding sources available. This section of the Local Offer aims to give you information that will help you apply for these funding sources.
There are a number of benefits you may apply for if you care for a child with SEND. Whether you are eligible and how much you receive will depend on your family’s individual circumstances. This may include your income, your caring responsibilities, and your child’s needs or disability.
Benefits that may be available to parents/carers of all children include:
- Child Benefit – this is a benefit available to all parents with children aged up to 16 (or up to 20 if they continue in full-time education or training) and is paid at a standard rate per child.
- Guardians Allowance – a top-up to the weekly child benefit payment for carers who are bringing up a child whose parents have died.
- Universal Credit – a single benefit that is replacing several benefits that used to be awarded independently (including child tax credits, income support, and housing benefit)
Additional benefits that may be available for parents/carers of children with SEND include:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – you may be able to claim this if your child (under 16) has a disability that impairs their mobility or requires much more looking after compared to a non-disabled child of the same age.
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – this is a benefit that may be available to people (aged over 16) with a disability that impairs mobility and/or requires help with day-to-day life.
- Carer’s Allowance – a weekly benefit that may be available to people who are full-time unpaid carers of a person with a disability or medical condition.
- Universal Credit – if you care for a disabled child, you may be eligible for additional funding through universal credit.
- Disabled Students’ Allowance – your child may be entitled to contributions towards any specialist equipment or support needed to pursue higher education courses.
For further information on the range of financial support you may be eligible for as a parent, please visit the Government’s website.
To calculate how much you may be entitled to in benefits, you can use the Turn2Us benefits calculator.
Support may be available to help you meet the costs of childcare. This includes:
- Free Early Education for 3-4 Year Olds – at least 15 hours of free childcare for all parents/carers.
- Free Childcare for 2 Year Olds – help with childcare if you are on low income or have a child with SEND.
- Tax-Free Childcare - Government-funded top-ups to your childcare spend for working families.
- Care to Learn – help with childcare if you are a student under 20 years old.
- Universal Credit - may allow you to claim back up to 85% of eligible childcare costs
If your child has a disability, you may find you need to adapt your home to make it suitable for their needs. Depending on your income, you may be eligible to receive a Disabled Facilities Grant to support you in paying for these adaptations to be made.
Adaptations that you could consider making with a Disabled Facilities Grant include:
- widening doors and installing ramps
- improving access to rooms and facilities – e.g. stairlifts or a downstairs bathroom
- providing a heating system suitable for your needs
- adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use
Assessment and provision of the Disabled Facilities Grant is made by the Local Authority. To be eligible for the grant you must:
- have a disabled child (of any age)
- own the property or be a tenant
- intend to live at your property during the grant period (currently five years)
To speak with a council social work advisor about whether you might be eligible, or to make an application, please call 020 7641 1175, or use the grant enquiry form.
If you have a child with SEND and receive support from the Local Authority, you may apply to have money paid directly to you so that you can choose how it is spent across education, health and social care services. This is called a personal budget.
Please click here to find out more about personal budgets and direct payments.
There are several organisations and services that can provide advice on managing money and whether you may be eligible for financial support.
Independent Advice and Support Service
The Independent Advice and Support Service (IASS) can advise you on the rights of carers and/or the rights of their children with SEND according to education, health and social care law. The IASS can tell you whether you may be entitled to any financial support and support you to apply.
Citizens Advice Bureau
Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) offer help and advice to everyone about managing money. They can also support with a wide range of other issues.
If you are a young person / adult with a learning disability, CAB have a specialist service to advise you on your finances.