Funding short breaks saves £174m, report finds

Sustained funding of short breaks for disabled children and their families can save the state £174m, according to a new report.

The report coincides with a government announcement of extra money for short breaks before ring-fencing ends in 2011.

The Social and Economic Value of Short Breaks, published today by independent think tank Nef Consulting, suggests the savings would come through a reduction in carer stress and the prevention of long-term residential placements due to avoidable family breakdown.

Short-break facilities are currently funded by Aiming High for Disabled Children. Although the main political parties are committed to continuing the work of the programme, they have yet to confirm whether funding for disabled children will be protected from public sector cuts in 2011.

Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of Action for Children, said: “We have known for a long time that investment in short-break services for disabled children makes good economic sense.

“The financial savings demonstrated by today’s report show that recession-driven cuts to this area of funding would be a false economy. However, these savings will only be possible if funding for short breaks is protected at its current level.”

Children, Schools and Families secretary Ed Balls said in a statement today that his department was allocating an extra £1m in 2009-10 to increase the number of short breaks for families with disabled children.

“It is vital that parents and carers of disabled children are offered the opportunity, if they wish, to take a short break from their caring responsibilities,: he said. “I know short breaks offer parents and carers the chance to have a rest, recover and rejuvenate, so they are better able to continue to provide the care their disabled children and other family members need.”

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