Children's charities applaud £340m Government fund

Children's charities have welcomed the Treasury's announcement yesterday of a £340m investment over the next three years in services for disabled children, although they warned that more was still needed.

The pledge includes £280m to provide short breaks for severely disabled children and their families, and £35m to fund a pilot project on accessible childcare.

The policy document also commits the Government to a more coordinated approach to service provision, and to giving the parents of disabled children choice in how health, social services and education services are delivered.

Treasury minister Ed Balls said the Government's long-term goal was to transform the life chances of disabled children and their families. “This can't be done overnight – there is no magic wand to wave,” he said. “But today's report makes a very significant step forward to meeting that goal, and will make a real difference over the coming years."

Association for Children’s Palliative Care
chief executive Lizzie Chambers welcomed the commitments “This significant investment by the Government, following the Disabled Children’s Review, will make a real difference to the lives of these children and their families,” she said.

NCH chief executive Clare Tickell said it was promising that disabled children and their families were “finally getting the break they deserve”.

She said: “The past few years have seen a massive reduction in funding for families with disabled children, particularly in the area of short breaks, which has led to enormous strain on children and their carers. 40,000 more short breaks services will make a life-changing difference to this group.”

Other chief executives also welcomed the spending, but urged the Government to go further.

Daycare Trust’s joint chief executive Emma Knights expressed concern that the Government “may be trying to squeeze a lot out of a very small pot”, pointing out that the extra funding added up to less than £500 extra per disabled child.

Whizz-Kidz chief executive Ruth Owen urged the Government to address the unmet need for wheelchair provision.
“Disabled children rely on having the right wheelchair to realise their basic human rights – yet too many families are still unable to access the vital mobility equipment they need,” she said.

Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Kate Green said the Government needed to make sure disabled children received the benefits they are entitled to, and that the extra financial support was enough to meet the additional costs faced by their parents.

Association of Children’s Hospices urged the Government to make sure the new review worked in tandem with the Children’s Palliative Care Review, launched last Thursday.

“As a first step we hope that the Treasury will set a specific children’s palliative care measure as part of a wider national indicator for the way that local services are provided to disabled children,” said chief executive Barbara Gelb. “This would be the strong lever needed to ensure that local health and social care providers work together to develop better children’s palliative care services.”

The Treasury’s pledges

Measures include:

  • £280m to fund short breaks for disabled children, working out to 40,000 fortnight-long breaks
  • £35m to fund a pilot project to provide accessible childcare
  • £19m for a programme to improve support during the transition to adulthood
  • £5m to allow parents of disabled children to get involved in shaping services at a local level
  • Radical reform to the provision of community equipment and wheelchairs


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