I was recently sent a copy of Short Breaks in 2015: An Uncertain Future, which is a new report by the charity Every Disabled Child Matters.
Short breaks give disabled children an opportunity to socialise with other young people, new experiences and an opportunity to grow in confidence. These breaks also give parents and families a break from the pressures of care, and as a result means fewer parent carers reach ‘breaking point’.
As the report makes clear, the saving to the state as the result of the positive impact of short breaks is well-established and estimated to be up to £174million each year. However with local authority budgets already squeezed, and with further spending reductions expected in the Autumn Spending Review, many families are concerned about the continued provision of these breaks.
I sincerely hope the Government reads the report, listens to its recommendations and responds to them. I will be speaking to Lancashire County Council about this point at the earliest opportunity.
Subject: Short Breaks in 2015: An uncertain future
Dear Mr Jones
I have pleasure in enclosing a copy of Short Breaks in 2015: An uncertain future for your information.
The transformation of short breaks provision over the previous decade has been one of the most significant policy successes achieved by government for families with disabled children. However the report reveals that a majority of local authorities (who responded to our freedom of information requests) had cut spending on short breaks between 2011/12 and 2015/16. These cuts are having a direct impact on the lives of parents carers and their experiences of short breaks, with 56% of respondents telling us that they either agreed or strongly agreed that it is becoming more difficult for families with disabled children to access short breaks.
We are calling on the Government to secure continued funding for short breaks through the Spending Review, in order to ensure local authorities can continue to meet their duties to provide short breaks. We are also asking the Government to require all local authorities to publish data on the levels of short break provision in their area, including the number of disabled children, how many access short breaks, and the volume of different types of short breaks being accessed.
We hope that you will support our call and urge the Government to ensure that short breaks are maintained as they are a vital service supporting disabled children, young people and their families.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like any further information.
T: 020 7843 6448