Parents prepare for cuts to disabled children’s care budget

A public consultation into changes to care services for disabled children has revealed that 75 per cent of parents and carers are against the plans.

Warwickshire County Council’s Integrated Disability Service (IDS), which provides respite and other care services for parents and carers, is facing a budget cut of £1.7m, a 30 per cent reduction.

In order to pay for the reduction, the criteria used to assess children’s needs is to be made stricter, however social workers can arrange to override the criteria to give a family extra help if they think its necessary.

The matter was discussed at a county council cabinet meeting last month, where it was agreed that county council short breaks service be decommissioned and contracted out to external providers from April this year. It was also agreed that services for short breaks and overnight short breaks for disabled children and their families are re-tendered alongside the tender for adult disability services.

The council insists the savings are necessary, but recently parents have claimed that if support is withdrawn then the council may not fulfil its legal obligations and could face a judicial review.

The services that will be affected will include short breaks services, family key worker services, social care services and commissioned services such as any by Take a Break that are funded by IDS.

One single mother of three, with two children at Brooke School in Rugby, said after the cuts were announced: “Speaking from personal experience this service stops vulnerable families sliding into crisis - ask anyone who uses the service and they will tell you that if it ceases to exist, families in Rugby will break down and people’s lives turned upside down.”

She added: “Not only will there be a huge cost in terms of human suffering, but also in financial terms when local authorities have to save those who have fallen into crisis.

“My opinion is that cutting these services will cost more in the long term and hurt countless families across the county.”

The IDS currently works with approximately 2,300 disabled children and their families providing social care and short breaks services.

A Warwickshire County Council spokesperson said: “Warwickshire County Council’s budget in February included a savings target of £1.7m for the Integrated Disability Service.

“A large proportion of the savings will be internal with no impact on frontline service, but the council will also consult on a modernisation and redesign programme for the service.

“This will focus on those with greatest need and aim to offer more choice and control to families when accessing support.”

The changes will take effect from April 1 this year.