Short breaks for some disabled children in Derbyshire to end

County Hall, Matlock.
County Hall, Matlock.

Short break services for some disabled children are to end, Derbyshire County Council has announced.

The move comes as the authority looks to make savings in a number of areas because of a reduction in government funding.

The council said that despite selling off land and buildings, reducing back-office costs and cutting the number of senior managers, the extent of the cuts means it must also consider cutting back most of its services.

Aiming High Derbyshire Offer, part of the menu of short breaks provided by the authority for disabled children and young people, had already been scaled back.

And now, Aiming High groups, short break grants, one-to-one support and activity weekends without the need for an assessment, will end from October 1.

However, families will be able to request a formal assessment of their needs and short breaks would continue to be offered to those children and young people with an identified need.

The move comes after the county council launched a consultation during which more than 1,000 people were asked for their views.

Councillor Jim Coyle, the county council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “We’ve done all we can to protect frontline services and vulnerable people while our budgets are continually being cut back.

“We don’t want to be in the position of stopping the Aiming High Derbyshire Offer without the need for an assessment as we understand the effect it will have on families.

“However, the size of the cuts we are being forced to make means we simply can’t afford to pay for services that we don’t legally need to provide.”

Cabinet agreed that families who qualify for support following an assessment by Derbyshire’s children’s services would continue to receive short breaks which fit their circumstances.

Children and young people who do not qualify for support will be encouraged to use services already operating around the county, including the council’s own Youth Offer.

They can also visit the Derbyshire Local Offer website – www.derbyshire.gov.uk/localoffer - which provides a range of information about activities and clubs for disabled young people.

This proposal does not affect the vital services the council must provide by law to give essential support to families of disabled children and young people with the highest levels of need to enable them to care for their child at home.

Councillor Coyle added: “We do not take decisions like this lightly. Throughout our consultation, we contacted more than 1,000 families and encouraged them to give us their views.

“We know that the Aiming High breaks provide disabled young people with experiences away from home while their carers get a valuable break but we simply cannot afford to fund everything we used to and have to make some difficult choices.”