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Have your say on possible changes to some services for disabled children and their families

Published: 12 March 2024

We are asking for views on possible changes to 2 specialist services for children with disabilities and their families, as a consultation is launched.

The 2 services that we're seeking views on are The Getaway short breaks service, and the Outback early help services.

Our cabinet agreed to consult on the proposed changes at a meeting on 1 February 2024.

In common with authorities across the country, we're facing budgetary pressures far greater than experienced before, due to factors beyond our control. These include dealing with higher than anticipated inflation and higher prices for fuel, energy and materials, meeting the cost of the national pay award set nationally but met locally, and the continued unprecedented increase in demand for vital adults’ and children’s social care services.

The changes are needed in order to support us in setting a balanced budget. Around £1.9 million needs to be saved from this budget.

We're looking for views on either closing The Getaway building, which offers short respite breaks for children with disabilities, or reducing capacity for short breaks and using some of the space for a home for children with disabilities in our care.

The Outback provides early help services for families with disabled children. We're seeking views on stopping these services, or refocusing them to prevent family breakdown and stopping children with disabilities coming into our care.

Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Councillor Julie Patten, said:

“We have always prided ourselves on being a prudent, financially stable and well-managed council, balancing our books from year to year, maintaining a strong level of reserves and keeping council tax as low as possible, while providing vital, value-for-money services for our residents.

“However, we have made no secret of the fact that we are facing pressures like never before, and this is particularly acute in the services we provide for children and families. Demand for social care support for children and spiralling costs of private placements, that we have no control over, is costing the council dearly. Other councils are experiencing the same issues.

“We have to do everything we can to make sure we balance our books and ensure we continue to provide services to support the most vulnerable children. This means that we have no choice but to put forward these proposals which, if agreed, could help us to achieve that.

“We are proposing changes to the short breaks service at The Getaway, but would like to reassure those families who use this service, that should the building close we would help them to find other places where their children could have a short break.

“I’d urge anyone currently using these services, and those organisations who also provide services for children and families to let us know their views by filling in our online questionnaire.”

The online questionnaire closes for comments on 24 March 2024.