A consultation on changes to the way short breaks for disabled children are provided in Hampshire opens for 12 weeks on 19 September.
Children’s Services, like all other County Council departments, must take steps to achieve savings against a backdrop of significant reductions in Government grant. It comes at a time when there is growing demand for statutory social care services that safeguard children.
Children and young people with a disability, their parents or carers, short breaks activities providers, other stakeholders and the wider public are urged to contribute to the consultation and make their views known. The options for change, to achieve savings, include:
• increasing parental contributions to the cost of open access short breaks activities;
• limiting the maximum number of open access short breaks activities available to each family;
• introducing eligibility criteria.
Councillor Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services said: “We fully understand the importance of short breaks to children, young people, their families and carers but, as much as we would like to, we cannot sustain the current level of funding and at the same time meet our obligation to provide statutory services such as safeguarding – where we are seeing significant growth in the number of children coming into care.
“Unfortunately, difficult decisions have to be made and we want to hear from as many people as possible, especially those who may be affected by any changes to the short breaks services. Responses to the consultation will help to shape the future short breaks service.”
Since 2008, the County Council has found £140m in savings. In spite of these efficiencies, the budget for services for children with disabilities was protected. However, with future cuts expected in Government funding, this position is no longer sustainable.
As part of a further £26m that Children’s Services must find by 2015, between £2.5m and £3.5m has been identified as potential savings from the budget for children with disabilities. Of the current total budget for children with disabilities (£19.7m), it is proposed that £1.85m (9.4%) of savings could be made by making changes to how open access short breaks services are currently provided.
The consultation runs from 19 September to 12 December 2014. To take part, people can complete the questionnaire online.
Alternatively, paper copies can be requested by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01962 846370.