Campaign coalition Every Disabled Child Matters is trying for a second time to push a bill through parliament that would give families that have disabled children who need a high level of care the legal right to short respite breaks.
Conservative MP Gary Streeter sponsored a private members bill last year in support of the coalition that would require all councils to provide short breaks. But the motion failed because of a lack of government support. Care services minister Ivan Lewis said the measure could not be supported due to the cost implications.
The Disabled Children (Family Support) Bill 2007 will be launched on 13 November at the House of Commons. Streeter is again giving his support. “Until each local authority has a duty to provide adequate short breaks for these hard-pressed families, we will not have finished this race,” he said.
If the Bill became law it would plug the gap in what is seen by the coalition as “unacceptable variations in service provision”. A survey by the Commission for Social Care Inspection revealed that just one in 13 disabled children receive regular support of any sort from their local authority. The coalition said that a legal right to families to sustain their caring role “makes sense both morally and financially”.
Campaign manager Steve Broach said that the government’s recent £280m investment in short breaks via the Aiming High for Disabled Children strategy was very welcome. “However, families reach crisis point not because they are carers, but because they are forced to care without any support. In order for families across the country to lead ordinary lives, they need a right to short break services.”