Short breaks for disabled children may be statutory

    Local authorities could face specific statutory duties on providing short-break services for families of disabled children and young people after ring-fenced funding ends in 2011.

    The Department for Children, Schools and Families has launched a consultation on the future of short breaks ahead of next year’s termination of guaranteed ring-fenced funding from Aiming High for Disabled Children (AHDC) .

    The DCSF’s preferred option is to introduce statutory duties in case the funds “bleed” into other local authority programmes after the ring-fence is lifted.

    The Local Government Association is against this option, saying it is limiting to councils.

    “We believe councils should have as much independence as possible to use funding as they see fit,” a spokeswoman told Community Care. “It depends on the local situation.”

    The DCSF has calculated that, on average, it costs local authorities £6,635 a year to provide short breaks for each disabled child.

    In the 2006 parliamentary hearings on services to disabled children, carers identified the lack of short breaks as their single greatest unmet need.

    The consultation was launched on 1 February and will close on 26 April.

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