Local authorities will be required to notify disabled children’s carers of short break services in their area and the criteria on which they will be assessed, from April 2011 if parliament approves new regulations put forward today.
The move follows survey findings released last week by Every Disabled Child Matters showing that 28% of English local authorities could face legal challenges over their short-break assessment criteria.
The government today put forward new regulations on breaks for carers of disabled children which state that by 1 October 2011, local authorities must publish a statement for carers in their area setting out:
• Details of the range of short breaks services provided; any criteria against which eligibility services will be assessed; and how the range of services is designed to meet the needs of carers in their area.
• When preparing or revising this short breaks statement, the local authority must have regard to the views of carers in their area.
David Congdon, head of policy and campaigns at Mencap and an EDCM Board member, said: “These regulations go a long way to strengthening disabled children and their families’ rights to short breaks. Parents have told us that ‘the lack of short breaks was the biggest single cause of unhappiness with service provision’. Giving carers this right is a huge step forward to families with disabled children living ordinary lives.”
“The regulations will now be laid before both houses of parliament for approval. The government will also be writing guidance to go alongside the regulations which we anticipate will be published soon after the regulations approval.
“We hope that the accompanying guidance on the Short Breaks Duty is produced in a timely way allowing local authorities to prepare for the duty’s commencement on 1 April 2011. This guidance will help local authorities navigate the legal maze on short breaks thus ensuring that families receive the breaks they are entitled to, and reduce local authorities’ risk of legal challenge.”
Earlier this week Community Care revealed that the £20m the government promised to fund short breaks may have to come out of the early intervention grant announced in last month’s spending review.
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