A service helping families of Royal Hospital for Children patients to secure financial support was today (Thursday, 30 November) visited by Jeane Freeman MSP, Minister for Social Security.
Our chairman John Brown CBE, in conjunction with Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, welcomed the Minister as she visited the service which is tackling the inequality faced by families with a child being treated in the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC).
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has reported that child poverty will affect 5.1million children in the UK by 2022 - a 42% rise over 10 years.
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.
Jeane Freeman MSP, Minister for Social Security, said: “I saw a lot of great work today at the Money Advice Service and the staff there are making a real difference to the lives of families.
“So let me encourage any family experiencing financial pressures to get in touch with the service to see how the staff can help them. Staff are there to help them with any financial issues, allowing the families to focus on the child’s health rather than money concerns.”
Jane Beresford, Financial Inclusion & Vocational Rehabilitation lead, NHSGGC, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister for Social Security to visit the service today to the see the work being done on behalf of patients and their families.
“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.”
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.