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Decision time on short breaks for Hampshire parents and carers of disabled children

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Hampshire News | Decision time on short breaks for Hampshire parents and carers of disabled children | Andover & VillagesHampshire County Council has agreed proposals for re-shaping the Short Breaks Activities Programme, so that it can continue to offer good quality breaks within a reduced budget.

A total of nine proposals for change were approved, on behalf of the County Council, by Councillor Keith Mans, Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services (12 July 2018). Approval was also given to a new Charging Policy, setting out consistent and equitable charging rates for Short Breaks.

In agreeing the proposals, Cllr Mans said: “Firstly, I would like to thank all those who responded to the public consultation held earlier this year, and those who made deputations at the Children and Young People Select Committee meeting. This has not been an easy decision to make and I am conscious that the children and families that this affects face particular challenges on a daily basis. However, I must ensure that we are able to continue to meet our statutory duties and that we can do so at a time when County Council services are under pressure and finances are being squeezed.

“The Programme will continue to offer a range of activities for children and young people with disabilities, enabling parents and carers to have a break from their caring responsibilities and have the opportunity to take part in education, training and leisure activities, complete day-to-day tasks or meet the needs of other children in the family.”

Overall, the changes to the Programme will contribute £1 million to the County Council’s £140 million reduction in overall spending. The agreed proposals include:

• To only fund Short Break Activities for children who live in the Hampshire County Council Authority area

• To commission Short Break Activities against local priorities, co-produced with a parent panel

• To only fund Short Break Activities that allow parents and carers to leave their child (for the duration of the activity)

• To cease funding Short Break Activities for those over 18 years of age

• To cease funding swimming lessons as a short break activity

Responding to a request made by the Children and Young People Select Committee, Councillor Mans has asked Children’s Services to monitor the impact of the changes relating to funding for over 18 year olds and the provision of swimming lessons and requested an update six months after the changes come in to effect.