The Institute for Fiscal Studies has reported that child poverty will affect 5.1million children in the UK by 22% - a 42% rise over 10 years.
However, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, in conjunction with Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, is tackling the inequality faced by families with a child being treated in the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC).
The RHC hosts the Money Advice Service – the only service of its kind in a children’s hospital in Scotland – which has secured £5.3 million in financial gain for service users and managed £632,603 of debt since 2012. The service is funded by Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.
In the first six months of this year alone, the service secured financial gains such as tax credits and benefits of £921,972.29 for families, 203 of whom were new referrals and 137 repeat clients.
In addition, staff were able to help families by:
Advisors can support people with a range of financial issues and have already supported more than 1,500 families with a range of financial gains and managing debt.
Jane Beresford, Financial Inclusion & Vocational Rehabilitation lead, NHSGGC, said:
“Individual financial situations are complex so we work with hospital staff who can suggest to families that they make contact with us or they can refer them directly to us.
“We are seeing families who have children staying as inpatients in the hospital feeling additional worries such as choosing between eating and heating, feeling under pressure paying bills and struggling with benefits forms.
“Parents and carers are already exposed to a great deal of stress when a child in an inpatient in hospital and money concerns can lead to further pressure and can trigger ill health in the parent or carer.
“We work with the families to identify how we can ease any debt burdens or increase the income coming into the home. In the previous financial year we had 408 referrals with the average financial gain for families being £5,739.10 – almost £2.5 Million in total.
“I would encourage any family experiencing financial pressures to come and see how we can help them. Not only can we ease the financial pressures, but it allows them to focus on their child’s health rather than money concerns.”
Shona Cardle, CEO, Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity said: “We are incredibly proud to have supported this service for a number of years. We are dedicated to supporting children and families throughout their hospital journey, and firmly believe that no family should ever suffer financial hardship as a result of their child’s health condition.”
Parents and carers can contact the service by calling 0141 445 7617 / emailing [email protected]
The Smith family contacted the service requesting assistance with income maximisation.
The parents are married with four children between the ages of 2–15 and Mrs Smith was pregnant with a fifth child. Two of the children have a disability with one being a long term inpatient at the RHC.
Neither parent was in employment with the only income the family was receiving being child benefit of £60.50 per week. They lived in socially rented accommodation which did not meet the family’s needs and was resulting in overcrowding.
The service helped the family apply for all benefit payments they were entitled to with these subsequently being awarded. The family is now in receipt of Income Support, Carer’s Allowance for both parents, Disability Living Allowance for two children, Child Tax Credit, Child Benefit, full Housing Benefit and full Council Tax reduction.
The family also benefited from road tax exemption, a blue badge and a warm home discount.
In addition, the family had secured larger accommodation, meaning they were no longer overcrowded and support was given by social work services to ease the pressure of caring.
For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]c.scot.nhs.uk