Some councils in England could face cuts in funding for disabled children’s short breaks if they fail to make enough progress in developing services, the Department for Children, Schools and Families has warned.
Councils are receiving £76m in revenue funding and £33m in capital finance this year to fund short breaks as part of the Aiming High for Disabled Children (AHDC) programme.
Although allocations are secure for “21 pathfinder authorities”, which received significant funding in 2008-9 to develop short breaks, grants for 129 non-pathfinder authorities were conditional on meeting nine criteria (see below) that showed good service planning.
11 failed to meet standards
The DCSF said that by 3 April, 11 councils had failed to meet all nine criteria, and three had failed to meet six or more.
A spokesperson said the DCSF had yet to cut funding for any of these councils, but it had made clear to “a small number of authorities” that it would review their progress during the first half of 2009-10, after which funding may be cut.
He added that struggling authorities would receive more support from Together for Disabled Children, a partnership between private provider Serco and disabled children’s charity Contact a Family, appointed by the DCSF to help implement the AHDC agenda.
Nine funding criteria
The nine criteria the 129 authorities were asked to meet were to have:
- A good strategic vision for transforming short breaks.
- Clearly articulated proposals for developing short breaks locally, support by pooled or aligned budgets with PCTs.
- Robust data on current service use and needs to determine commissioning.
- Evidence of families’ input into service planning and wide engagement of families and disabled children.
- A service manager with responsibility for short breaks in both the council and the corresponding PCT.
- Adequate management capacity to deliver transformation.
- Capital project requirements and management capacity identified.
- Commissioning arrangements in place for developing provision, with independent providers engaged.
- A clearly articulated joint workforce strategy.
The news came after the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign called for more progress in developing short breaks – particularly in non-pathfinder areas – in a study of four authorities published this week.
Good practice: Short breaks for disabled children