How proposed welfare cuts would harm thousands of British families: The mother of a baby with Cystic Fibrosis explains how important state support is

AT THE end of March it was revealed that the Conservative Party were planning to cut £12bn from the welfare budget.

The information, which was leaked to the BBC, included taxing disability allowances and reducing benefits paid outside London.

Millions across the UK are dependent on these benefits to help with the everyday needs of themselves or family members.

As the mother of a baby with Cystic Fibrosis, Emma Corr, from Jarrow in Tyne and Wear, understands just how essential these benefits can be.

HARRIET CORR: Little Harriet is one of over 9,000 Cystic Fibrosis sufferers in the UK

HARRIET CORR – Little Harriet is one of over 9,000 Cystic Fibrosis sufferers in the UK.

With no physical signs of disability, six month old Harriet looks like any other baby to the eyes of those who don’t know her.

Emma said: “Harriet is the most placid, happy and content baby.

“Even through the hard times she always has a smile.”

Cystic fibrosis affects the digestive system and the lungs, leaving them clogged with thick sticky mucus.

This means hospital trips and special dietary requirements are an ongoing factor in the lives of those with the disease.

Mother-of-two, Emma, who has no family history of Cystic Fibrosis, said: “The DLA (Disability Living Allowance) helps to fund regular trips to our local children’s hospital – parking, petrol and public transport costs all add up.

“The DLA we receive is invaluable to our family.”

Upon Harriet’s initial diagnosis, Emma wasn’t even aware that they would receive anything from the government.

She said: “At first I was quite shocked that we would be entitled to something.

REGULAR HOSPITAL VISITS: Those with Cystic Fibrosis will often need medical attention

REGULAR HOSPITAL VISITS – Those with Cystic Fibrosis will often need medical attention.

“As a couple, my husband and I have always worked hard and have never been entitled to any state benefits so this was rather new to us.”

The older Harriet gets, the more crucial the support she receives from the welfare system will be.

Harriet, who is one of over 9,000 people in the country with Cystic Fibrosis, will have to eat a high calorie diet to maintain her weight, face expensive travel insurance premiums and possibly purchase an Afflo vest costing around £9,000 to help shift mucus from her lungs.

Emma said: “When Harriet is sixteen she currently faces the prospect of having to pay for all of her prescribed medicines.

“This is going to cost a great deal and lots of parents feel this is unfair as others with chronic conditions are exempt from paying.

“We will be saving some of her DLA to help with this huge outlay.”

Should cuts to the welfare system affect the amount of DLA Harriet receives she’ll struggle to pay for some of the essential needs in her life.

Emma added: “How on earth she is going to be able to afford a wide spectrum of medication is beyond me.

“These funds are vital to help towards the cost of prescribed medicines for a lifelong condition.”

Even with the current levels of support offered, Emma has spoken with other parents of children with Cystic Fibrosis who have encountered problems.

She suggested that the application process, wide ranging discrepancies with how much DLA is awarded case to case and the time consuming nature of caring for an unwell child seem to be main issues.

HAPPY BABY: Harriet with her mother, Emma

HAPPY BABY – Harriet with her mother, Emma.

She said: “Some children who are less affected by Cystic Fibrosis have been awarded the highest amount whilst in some cases those in the most need have been denied any financial support.

“There needs to be an improvement in how the award is made and also the application process needs to be simpler.

“Parents also feel that the level of extra time put into keeping your child in good health warrants financial aid as it could become very difficult to hold down a full time job if your child needs a high level of care.”

In spite of this, Emma and her family are extremely grateful for the support they currently receive.

Emma, who is optimistic about the future, said: “Cuts to DLA would have a massive impact on those families fighting Cystic Fibrosis.

“As a family we do however, remain hopeful that a cure will be found for Cystic Fibrosis and that we will no longer need DLA assistance.”

To follow Harriet’s story, visit Emma’s website


from Tside