Cuts Watch #244: Services for Disabled Children
A survey by Every Disabled Child Matters reveals that local authorities are already cutting services for disabled children and their parents including short breaks, play and leisure, education, transport, health, training and equipment. Close to Crisis: Frontline service cuts for disabled children is based on a survey of EDCM’s members over the summer, and it found that voluntary groups working with disabled children and their families are afraid that cuts next year will damage the services they rely on and some local authorities are already making cuts assuming that central government funding will no longer be available from next April.
The key issue is the future of the £430 million Aiming High for Disabled Children programme, designed to transform services and due to come to an end of its 3-year run next year. £280 million is devoted to the short break programme, £35 million to childcare for disabled children and £19 million to helping disabled young people as they move into adulthood.
The report includes quotes from providers and parents that show just how successful this programme has been:
I don’t have any other members of my family that can look after my son. Access to the play scheme has given me a much needed break during the holidays, a bit of time to re-charge my batteries. I fear that if the Aiming High for Disabled Children money is cut this scheme will either reduce or end completely.”
Whilst the Government may not have cut Aiming High for Disabled Children money or Carers Grant directly, by not ring fencing either, services for disabled children are still very vulnerable and the 30% cut in the Area Based Grant is already impacting on the Carers Grant now and may well on the AHDC funding next year.
I used this service with regards to my Son who has Downs Syndrome; it provided me time to spend with my other children and actually time for myself. This service gave carers a chance to regenerate and take on the caring role again and again. Had this service not been available many families would have broken down and this would have caused a lot more demand on help and funding from the Government and local authorities.
I don’t think my son would be living within our family home if I hadn’t had the support from [the service] in the early years. I don’t want to think that children are in care because their families can’t cope or get a break from a child’s constant care needs.
We expected to hear from the County about who we would apply to for next year and beyond but instead we were told Saturday Club has had its funding pot dissolved and that the service, which was funded to run until March 2011, must cease December 31st 2010.
To be told that our application was not even to be reviewed any further due to the new Governments cut backs was very frustrating.
Every Disabled Child Matters has recommended that the government should use the Comprehensive Spending Review “to give a clear, unambiguous message to local authorities, and to disabled children and their families, about the funding that will be available for disabled children’s services over the next five years.”