30 April 2018
Hampshire Parent Carer Network (HPCN)
on the Hampshire County Council (HCC) nine proposals for funding cuts to Short Break Activities
HCC Short Breaks provide play and leisure opportunities where disabled children and young people have fun, learn new skills, and gain independence. Exhausted families get some respite, which can save them from going into crisis. HCC now state that they need to cut £1m funding from Short Breaks for Disabled Children. They make nine proposals for savings.
HPCN members understand that savings need to be made and tell us that they agree with proposals 1-5 & 7. However, they all feel that the proposed cut of £1m (over 40%) to the Short Break budget is disproportional and they disagree with proposals 6, 8 & 9.
“I live in the Basingstoke and I am extremely concerned that cuts could potentially affect at least 22 of the 48 activities available to my child in my area – that’s almost half. “
HPCN members do not agree with the proposal (6) to stop funding Short Break Activities for young people aged 18 and over because this is a retrograde step when national policy is increasing the understanding of the age range of children and young people with additional needs to 25 years through the introduction of EHCP legislation. They do not agree that Hampshire should (8) only fund Short Break Activities which allow parents and carers to leave the child because this is an unfair proposal which penalizes families who cannot leave their child due to separation anxiety. Many of our members tell us that family sessions are amongst their most valued.
“Going to Avon Tyrell is a precious time when we don’t feel judged by other families, and we are able to relax. Short Breaks should be fully inclusive of all children, including those that must stay with their child and the many single parents and low-income families who regularly access these types of break. ‘87% of children don’t get a chance to play. Let’s not make that percentage any higher.”
Members do not agree that HCC should (9) stop funding swimming lessons as a short break activity and disagree when HCC claims swimming forms part of the curriculum. Their disabled children rarely get the opportunity to swim in schools because they are excluded from lessons on the basis that they cannot cope with a large group. Parents value the short time that swimming lessons give them to step away and relax for half an hour, chat with a friend or have a coffee. They consider it a break from caring.
“My young person only accessed 1-1 swimming via the Gateway Card and it changed his life. I think think that stopping this provision would cause a devastating outcome across the whole County.”
HPCN members generally agree that (1) short break activities might be based on priorities, agreed with a representative parent carer panel if smaller, specialist providers are nurtured, and both urban and rural areas are equally provided. Members agree that (2) parent carers should pay in advance for short break activities to allow providers to plan their resources more accurately if (3) consistent parent carer charges and hardship rates are put in place and are flexible enough to apply across schemes offering different types of provisions. Members are happy (4) to move to an online Gateway Card application system and agree HCC should (5) introduce higher eligibility criteria for Gateway Cards if need can be evidenced by a professional where other paper evidence does not exist. Finally, there is agreement that (7) short break activities would only be funded for children who live in Hampshire on the basis that funding for children crossing Local Authority borders is a matter for LAs and providers to negotiate, and does not impact on any individual family or child.
“If you live near a county border you might be closer to access another county short break, and due to capacity, it might be accessible – why change that?” “No way is it fair for some young people to be eligible to attend after-school clubs when others cannot, just because of where they live.”