Research published in early 2015 by the Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM) campaign showed that more than half of local authorities have cut spending on short breaks (respite services) for families with disabled children since 2011/12. The research also revealed that families are reporting it is more difficult to access short breaks.
Short breaks have always been an integral part of the EDCM campaign – being one of the first issues the campaign tackled. They allow parents to have a break from caring and thus spend time with their spouse or other children, and provide the child with an opportunity to have fun without their parents – an experience other children without a disability have readily available. The resulting report ‘Short Breaks in 2015: An Uncertain Future’ from EDCM’s work on their short breaks project was to look at the impact of budget cuts from financial years 2011/12 to 2015/16 to short break provision across England as well as the variation of provision on offer.
In February 2015 EDCM launched a legal resource ‘Challenging cuts to Short Breaks’ giving supporters a template letter to challenge cuts to service provision in their local area – many got back to EDCM and the campaign ask for funding to short breaks to remain at the same level (£800m) for the remainder of the current Parliament stemmed from there. There is a risk that outcomes for disabled children and the successful implementation of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) reforms could be undermined if the funding level is not maintained.