Disabled children and their families in Scotland and Wales may miss out on improved access to short breaks and other services because the devolved administrations have not ring-fenced funding from the UK government, campaigners have warned.
This month, councils are due to receive the first chunk of £340m in revenue funding for disabled children from 2008-11, the bulk of which is designed to transform the provision of short breaks over the next three years.
But Every Disabled Child Matters is warning the £34m earmarked for Scotland and £21m for Wales will not reach disabled children.
It also claimed there were inadequate incentives for councils to prioritise the group, unlike in England, where authorities will be assessed against a performance indicator measuring parents’ experiences of services and the extent to which provision meets core standards.
EDCM campaign manager Steve Broach (pictured) said the funding arrangements in Wales and Scotland remained “totally unclear”.
He said: “There are clear guidelines for England, with the Department for Children, Schools and Families providing a breakdown of the amounts going to each local authority.
“The devolved administrations need to do something practical and tangible to make disabled children a priority group. Where families live should not determine the kind of support they receive.”
Scotland’s children’s minister, Adam Ingram, said local authorities had statutory obligations to meet the needs of disabled children. He added funding in this area had reached record levels, with an increase of 13% over the past three years.
Under the concordat that the Scottish government has with local authorities, “there is a commitment to reduce ring-fencing in order to improve local flexibility and reduce bureaucracy”, Ingram said.
The concordat includes a target of providing an extra 10,000 weeks of respite care each year for vulnerable groups, including disabled children.
A spokesperson for the Welsh assembly government said a grant of £1.54m had been given to local authorities in Wales in 2007-8, and one-off grants for 2008-9 would be provided subject to “evaluation reports from the 2007-8 grant”.