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`SCRAP MEANS TEST'.

Byline: Richard Porritt ,

protest Campaigners make their point (from left), Teresa Ewan, Nadine Ewan, Aaron Ewan, Catherine Kay, Valentina McParland, Anthony Kay and Angie McCormack Parents lead campaign over home improvements

PARENTS of severely disabled children have stepped up their campaign to scrap means-testing for vital home improvements.

The Parent and Carers' Forum in Kirklees has called on the Government to abolish the income test which they say is unfair.

Families can apply to the Government for money to help them have work done on their home to make access and lifting easier.

But many people claim the financial threshold is too small and many who are only on average incomes cannot afford any improvements.

Angie McCormack, project development officer for the forum, said England should follow Northern Ireland and get rid of the means test.

"It is not fair on the children and not fair on the families," said Mrs McCormack, whose 10-year-old daughter Rebecca has cerebral palsy. "It is dangerous for children who might be very big to be carried and it is not suitable for them when they become teenagers anyway.

"At the moment there are families who work hard but only earn average, normal wages.

"They are not wealthy and might have other children as well but they don't get the grant and might have to find thousands and thousands of pounds to get the work done.

"Some have had to give up the homes they have worked to keep for years and move into council accommodation just to make the child's life that much better - it is not fair."

In Northern Ireland an eight-year campaign by pressure groups successful got the means testing lifted in February last year.

A Government review of housing and adaptations is under way for England with a decision expected next month.

In Wales a similar review recommended stopping the test.

But Mrs McCormack said although the signs are positive the Government could simply ignore any recommendation.

She also hit out at local MPs for not getting behind the campaign.

A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said the Government was increasing the amount of money available for grants.

He said: "Funding will increase by more than 2% to pounds 103m in 2005/2006.

"We are concerned that in some areas the scheme has not been implemented correctly and we are looking to address that problem."
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Apr 20, 2005
Words:398
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