The cost of bringing up a child with Autism can affect parents, carers and families emotionally. Not only do you need time to digest the diagnosis, but there are the endless calls and emails getting the right support, meetings with schools and so on. What fails to come to mind is the financial cost.
In 2014, paediatric study in the U.S printed by Time Money found that it costs the average U.S family in one lifetime, $1.4 million bucks. OK, so they don’t have the NHS to fall back on, but don’t think the U.K gets away with no cost to the family at all. In fact, in the U.K, the figure is around £220K. Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s an ordinary lifetime where the child is state educated, takes one holiday a year and where the Autism is not severe.
If we were to compare that figure to how much it costs to raise one non-autistic child in the U.K, to raise one autistic child, it’s three times as much.
According to the charity, Ambitious about Autism, having the means to put in place some relative care for your autistic child for his or her life time, costs homes, savings and pensions. At the present time, only 11% of parents in the U.K say they can actually work full time, leaving around another 70% of parents saying that the support they receive is far from enough to allow them to do so. Families often have to survive on one income alone, leaving the other parent the full time carer which can have a devastating impact on self esteem, confidence not to mention, their own independence.
This means it is more vital than ever to intervene as early as possible to get your child up to independent speed by the time they are 25. Not only will this take the pressure of the already heavily burdened NHS, but it will give you back your hard earned savings, your home and your time off. People who care for people live shorter lives becoming more susceptible to chronic or long term illness earlier in life.
The most the average working, healthy person can expect to receive from the state pension at 70 is less than 7K a year. So where will that leave your child? To the state? Where’s the money going to come from if the government intends to undercut the social budget? Will they end up being homeless? Jobless? Alone?
It’s a frightening thought.
So, to put your mind at ease for now, I have put together for you, a quick list of what you can do to help get support from the government now, if you qualify.
Apply, It’s always worth trying.Working Tax Credit – if you household income is under 15K or there abouts (check the direct gov website for a more accurate figure) and work at least 16 hours a week. You can see if you can claim here by using the direct gov calculator. If you have a partner living with you, you will need to their employment and salary details which will be requested for on the form.
- Child Tax Credit – you don’t have to be working to claim Child Tax Credit, however, you will need to give details about any household income you have, such as from a partner. You need to fill out a Form TC600 for Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. You can request one of these by calling the HMRC Tax Credit Helpline: 0845 300 3900 or you can go to the link here to find out if you are eligible. If you find that filling out forms is hard work and stressful, you can contact Ambitious About Autism of the National Autistic Society to find support groups who can help you.
- Carer’s Allowance – if you are caring for someone for 35 hours a week or more, you might be eligible. The weekly rate is around £62 for one person and they don’t have to be living with you. You can apply online and the form isn’t that long. It is worth mentioning here that this benefit can affect any other benefits you may be claiming. You will also need to take into account your own income and not earn more that £100 a week. This only focuses on you, and not any other adult living in the house bringing in an income, although to complete your claim, you may need to send in further information at their request. You can only claim this or Carer’s credit, not both. If you prefer, you can call and ask for a printed form to fill out to claim by calling this number 0800 882 200.
- Disability Living Allowance – is what you can get for your child if you are helping them with daily tasks, such as eating, washing and getting dressed. The amount you can be entitled to is split (care component and dependent living rate) depending on what your child needs assistance to do. The form is long winded and very detailed. You will need to write out exactly what your child needs you for in order to get through the day. However, once you claim it, it will run until your child is 16, then you can apply for them to receive PIP. It is worth reading up to see what recent changes have been made first.
- Personal Independent Payments – (if your child is over 16) is the new next step from DLA. As 16 years old is seen as the age of financial responsibility, this regular amount can be paid directly to your child’s account. However, if this is not appropriate, then it can be paid to you as the carer. You need to be between the ages of 16-64 and can be claimed if you have a long term disability, such as autism. But like DLA, what you get and if you qualify largely depends on how your condition limits you and your daily living and care for yourself, not actually what you have. Think mobility and independence. Again, the forms are very lengthy and will need a lot of writing, so get someone to do this for you if you need help. If you call HMRC, they can also help you with the form