Headlines: December 10th, 2007

Public, voluntary and private sector organisations are to get more money to help disabled children to take better quality short breaks so they can experience new things while their parents get some time off from caring. Details of a new 45 million pound fund will be unveiled today by the Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families, Ed Balls.

The money will build on the existing long term strategy ‘Aiming High for Disabled Children: Better Support for Families.’ That has made 340 million pounds available over the next three years with the ambition of transforming services for families with disabled children. The new money will go to a range of service providers so they can improve their equipment, transport and facilities for short-breaks and to enable more inclusive breaks to be organised for severely disabled children and young people to take part in activities with non-disabled young people.

Disabled young people themselves are also to benefit from an extra 8.4 million pounds of support through the Children’s Fund and low income families with disabled young people aged 16 and 17 will be able to access grants through the Family Fund. The latter is the country’s largest charitable provider of grants to disabled children. The DCSF already makes 23 million pounds a year available through the Fund and it is expected that today’s announcement will make possible more than 16,000 grants over the next three years.

On the plan for improved breaks for disabled children Ed Balls said it was part of the ethos enshrined in the Children’s Plan and the funding renewed the Government’s commitment to providing breaks for both disabled children and their families. “The public, private and voluntary sectors have a key role to play. They must come together to offer real choice for families with disabled children,” he added.