Short Breaks Campaign
HPCN has two parent reps on the Short Breaks working group. They are involved with the discussions and decisions about the Short Breaks programme and ensure that there are suitable parent reps attending the grant panel sessions.
In January 2014, Hampshire Council announced a proposed budget cut of almost two thirds for Short Breaks (approximately £1.85m), which HPCN believed would be highly detrimental to hundreds of families across the county. It was vital for us to campaign against these proposed cuts because of the effect it would have on the families we represent.
We, therefore, undertook a year-long campaign which included deputations at council meetings and the councillor-led Task and Finish group; a survey; a petition; securing press coverage; and encouraging parents to both write to councillors and MPs and to complete the formal consultation document.
At the same time, we knew our campaign might not be successful, so two parent representatives joined a Hampshire Council-led project team looking at what the service would look like with a significantly reduced budget.
We were delighted when Hampshire Council announced that they would use reserves to protect the Short Breaks budgets for a further year, which meant that this vital support for families remains in place until spring 2016.
However, we know this is only a temporary solution and although the council has not formally announced its intentions for 2016 onwards, the two parent reps involved have now joined a new Short Breaks strategy group which continues to look at how the service can be delivered on a £1.2m budget, whilst ensuring support remains in place for as many families as possible. This group is currently meeting twice a month to discuss ideas, review data and explore new ways of delivering the service.
As soon as the council announces its funding proposals for 2016/17 HPCN will decide whether any further campaigning is required. Watch this space!