Raising children is expensive. Research shows that it costs, on average, three times as much money to raise a child with a serious disability than it does to raise a non-disabled one so I’m always looking for money saving tips for families with additional needs.
Conditions such as global developmental delay, autism and hypermobility can often be issues you really need to throw money at, be it for travel, physical equipment, proper childcare or extra teaching.
Disability Living Allowance can really help to lift the burden but there are also lots of ways to save money and make life a little bit easier.
Here are my 9 money saving tips for families with additional needs. I’d love to hear yours too in the comments below.
1. Max Card.
If you’re looking to entertain the kids, the Max Card can be really handy. It’s a discount card for families of children with additional needs. Show your Max Card upon entry to a participating venue to obtain free or discounted admission. The card costs £3 and is valid for two years. Max Cards can be distributed up until the day before a child’s nineteenth birthday.
This can be a great money saving tip for families with additional needs but it can depend where in the country you live. It was set up in Leeds so Yorkshire is particularly well covered.
Visit http://www.mymaxcard.co.uk/ for details
2. Travel concessions
The England National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) has provided free off-peak bus travel throughout England for people over the age of five with disabilities.
The pass enables the child plus an adult to travel free of charge. Bus travel passes are issued by your local authority,
The Disabled Person’s Railcard allows you to save 1/3 off all rail travel for just £20 a year. It covers both the cardholder and an adult companion.
Visit https://www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk/ for details
3. Free cinema ticket for a carer
You can apply for a card from the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association (CEA) that gives one free ticket for anyone accompanying a disabled person to the cinema.
To get the free ticket, you will need to purchase a full price ticket for the disabled person for the same performance of the same film.
Apply for a card, which costs £6 for one year, on the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association website https://www.ceacard.co.uk/index.php
4. Discounted theatre tickets and free tickets for carers
Lots of theatres offer discounted tickets for disabled people. Some also reserve seats for wheelchair users and allow carers in for free.
Check with the theatre when you’re booking tickets to find out what they offer.
5. Free admission for carers at National Trust and English Heritage properties
Both the National Trust and English Heritage give free entry to companions of disabled visitors.
The disabled visitor pays the normal admission fee or membership (although if you have a Max Card, they may be able to get in free to some properties).
To save having to ask for free entry at a National Trust property, you can apply for an ‘Access for All Admit One Card’ in advance https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/visitors-with-disabilities
To find out about the accessibility of English Heritage properties visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk
6. Concessions at public libraries
Some libraries offer services at a reduced rate or free of charge to disabled people: Overdue books, computer access, audio and visual material. Check with your local authority.
7. Free admission at football matches
Some clubs offer this to fans with disabilities and their carers. Check with your local club to see if they do.
One of my top money saving tips for families with additional needs is to ask. Lots of places offer concessions for disabled people but don’t always advertise them. It’s always worth asking, even if the answer is no.
9. Fast track.
If you’re going to an attraction where there might be queues, such as a theme park or a festival, find out if they operate a fast track system. Often, these places will let you bypass the queues if you take a copy of your DLA award letter from the Department for Work and Pensions as proof of disability.