Calls for winter fuel allowance for families with disabled children

MONEY is given to pensioners during winter months to help keep them warm in the form of winter fuel allowances.

However one Winslow family is asking for such financial help to be extended to people with a disabled child in their family.

Gail and Max Walshe, of Park Road, have a four-year-old son, Luke, who has the life-limiting condition Oesophageal Reflux meaning he is much more prone to vomiting and chest infections.

Mrs Walshe said: "At this time of year when he gets phlegm in his chest a simple cold is difficult to clear because he can't run around like other children to loosen it up so he can't cough it out.

"It's the same at any time, but in the winter it gets worse and a cold that lasts normally for four or five days can take a month to clear."

It helps Luke if the heating is kept on, meaning the family have much higher fuel bills and Mrs Walshe says it would be helpful if they were given winter fuel allowances similar to the 200 given to pensioners every year.

As a volunteer for the charity Contact a Family, Mrs Walshe speaks to a lot of families with disabled children.

She said that because of the amount of care needed and having to go to hospital more than average, people with disabled children need an understanding employer or a job with flexi-time often meaning they struggle financially.

Mark Robertson, Contact a Family's information and publications manager, said: "Many famillies of disabled children dread the onset of winter.

"Their child can become seriously poorly and is less settled and less content during the period of short, dark days.

"Families can be stuck indoors for prolonged periods.

"The cold weather inevitably leads to bigger heating bills for any family. But for those whose child's condition is affected by the cold, the costs are even higher."

Aylesbury MP, David Lidington, has said that he would welcome correspondence for a campaign to look at help with fuel bills.

He said: "I would certainly be prepared to raise this issue with ministers. I have an open mind as to whether it should be an extension of winter fuel payments or if it should be added to other disability payments."

Do you agree that families with disabled children should get help with winter fuel payments?

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