Support available nationally from the government / local authorities

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Benefit for children with higher than average care needs

DLA (Disability Living Allowance) is a benefit available to children under the age of 16. It pays from £24.45 to £156.90 a week and is dependent on the level of help the child needs. It is not means tested, which means you can claim regardless of what your income is. You don't need diagnoses to claim DLA, it's based on your child's needs (but obviously the more evidence you have the more it will help your claim).

DLA is divided into two components, one based on the level of care the child needs (Care Component) and the other on the mobility needs of the child (Mobility Component). The mobility component is only available to children aged 3 and over (ages 3 to 4 can only be awarded high rate mobility). For those aged under 3 with the highest needs, you can apply for a discretionary grant from the Family Fund Motability Scheme to lease a vehicle through the Motability scheme.

DLA applications can be a long process and people often find that they are rejected or awarded a lower level than they feel they deserve following their initial application. Please see my DLA page for more information, particularly if you're considering trying to get High Rate Mobility under Virtually Unable to Walk (VUW) or Severe Mental Impairment (SMI) criteria.

DLA Website:

Eligibility criteria can be found here:

Claims Form and Guidance notes:

In Scotland you get a Child Disability Payment instead of DLA, but it's much the same thing:

For more information see:

Motability Scheme

Car leasing scheme for those in receipt of Higher Rate DLA Mobility Element and grants

If you are awarded the High Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance, you have the option of using some or all of it to lease a car through the Motability scheme. The price of a lease is all inclusive (insurance, servicing, maintenance, breakdown cover, tyre replacement and windscreen repairs). If the car you require to meet your needs requires a deposit, they may be able to provide you with a grant to cover this cost depending on your circumstances.

For more details see:

They also offer some charitable grants for Cars and Adaptions, Wheelchair Accessibility, Complex Solutions, Driving Lessons, Additional Support, Access to Work, Stopped Allowances and Special Grants.

For details see:

Carers Allowance

Benefit available for people who care for someone for at least 35 hours a week

Carers allowance is a benefit available to you if you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week (you do not get paid extra if you care for more than one person. If someone else also cares for the same person as you, only one of you can claim Carer’s Allowance). The current rate for Carers Allowance is £69.70 a week. To be eligible for carers allowance you must care for your child for at least 35 hours a week and the child must be in receipt of the middle or highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.

You can only claim if your income after Tax, National Insurance and Expenses is £132 a week or less.

For more details see:

Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP)

Accessing extra educational support

“An Education, Health and Care plan (“EHC plan”) is a legal document which describes a child or young person’s special educational needs, the support they need, and the outcomes they would like to achieve.” Once in place an EHCP can allow your child to access specialist support, schools and therapy and will put in place the funding for this.

To set up an EHCP you need to apply for an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment from your Local Authority. You can make this application yourself or it can be done by your child's school, nursery, doctor, health visitor etc

The process is a lengthy one and you need to convince the local authority in the first place that they actually need to assess your child, so it's important to include as much evidence as possible in your application. There are some really good guides on the internet which I would recommend studying before applying.

IPSEA have a template letter to use when requesting a needs assessment:

For more detailed information see: EHCP

Free Child Care For 2-4 Year Olds

Government scheme to provide free child care for some children

The government provides free childcare for some children aged 2-4 years depending on thier circumstances.

In general, if you (and your partner if you have one) are working, your 3 to 4 year old children are entitled to 30 hours free childcare per week with an approved childcare provider for 38 weeks a year. If you're not working but are in receipt of some benefits such as Incapacity Benefit or Carers Allowance, you may still be entitled to this free childcare. For more details see:

2 year olds may also be entitled to free childcare if you receive certain benefits including Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit. In addition, 2 year olds are entitled to free childcare if they have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

For more details see:

Free School Transport / Claim Mileage For Taking Your Child To School

If your child has an EHCP or Statement of Special Educational Needs and you live 2 or more miles away from their school if the child is under 8, or 3 or more miles away if your child is 8 or over, you should be entitled to be provided with free transportation for them to and from their school. For more information on eligibility see:

Something that seems to be not so well known is that if you decline this offer and elect to take your child to and from school yourself, you are entitled to claim the return mileage from your house to the school twice a day (some authorities only seem to cover one return journey a day), for every day they have attended at a rate of 25p per mile.

Find details of how to apply through your local council here:

Children With Disability Services

Support for you and your child from social servies

You can apply for a needs assessment from your local Children with Disabilities Service (part of the social care department) to see what help they may be able to offer both your child and you as a carer.

To find out how to apply in your local area, enter your details here:

After applying they'll normally get back to you within 48hrs, telephoning to discuss why you think you need an assessment and telling you the next steps. If it's determined that you meet the eligibility criteria to have a full assessment, a social worker will arrange to visit you within 10 working days to complete the assessment (it is a requirement that they see your child as part of the assessment). The social worker will meet with you to discuss your situation, what help you would like and what they might be able to provide you. They will discuss things like your child's care needs, the affect this has on your life and the support network you have. They will complete the assessment within 45 days. Their report will be shared with you and any needs Identified will be developed with you into a child and family support plan.

To many the idea of volunteering to be assessed by a social worker might seem strange, but they can be an excellent way of accessing support services and finding out about assistance that you didn't even know was available. (Support available can include support from an allocated social worker or a child & family worker (CFW), direct payments that enable parents and carers to employ a personal assistant (PA) to support their disabled child and allow some breaks from caring, home care support or support to access the community through a specialist care agency, overnight short breaks, specialist assessments and behavioural support through organisations such as Aspens, access to targeted short breaks provisions, including after school clubs, Saturday clubs and holiday play schemes). Also your report from this assessment can be helpful when applying for other support, such as in a DLA application.


Can cap your water bill if you need to use large amounts of water for medical reasons

Watersure is a scheme which caps your water bills. To qualify you need to be on a means tested benefit, have a water meter, and need to use a large amount of water either for medical reasons or because you have 3 or more school age children in your household. Different water companies have slightly different eligibility, with some, being on DLA will make you eligible (not Southern water though).

or do a Google search for Watersure and your water company.