Primary care trusts will be held to account over their spending on short breaks for disabled children, children’s secretary Ed Balls said today.
Balls told a conference organised by the Council for Disabled Children that in September all PCTs would be required to report on how much of a £340m funding allocation for 2008-11 they would be spending on short breaks.
The funding, from the Department of Health, matches the £340m allocated by the Department for Children, Schools and Families to English councils for disabled children’s services over the same period, as part of the government’s Aiming High for Disabled Children programme.
PCT funds not ring-fenced
But unlike the DCSF money, the DH funding is not ring-fenced.
Balls said the chief nursing officer, Christine Beasley, and David Flory, director general of NHS finance, had recently written to PCT chief executives saying the DH would require a statement from every trust on what they had done in terms of short break provision.
“We will know how much of the £340m has been spent by PCTs on short breaks and that will enable parent groups to scrutinise and ask the right questions about how the money has been spent,” he said.
Concerns over NHS contribution
Balls made the comment in response to concerns from delegates about the NHS’ financial contribution to services for disabled children.
The conference was organised to mark the end of the first year of the Aiming High programme.
Speculation over Balls’s future
Balls spoke amid turmoil in the government over the decision of a number of ministers to step down ahead of an expected reshuffle on Friday, in which he is widely tipped to succeed Alistair Darling as chancellor.
When NCB chief executive Paul Ennals expressed a desire for Balls to remain as children’s secretary, Balls responded: “Me too.”