Budget 2021 shows encouraging signs but falls short for families with disabled children, says DCP
3 mins read
Wednesday 27 October 2021
Today Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP has delivered his autumn budget in the House of Commons.
Amanda Batten, Chair of the Disabled Children’s Partnership and Contact’s CEO, says:
“While it’s encouraging to see signs that the government recognises the need to invest in support for disabled children and their families, without dedicated new funding for disabled children’s health and social care – like respite services – today’s spending review falls short of providing the world-class public services promised by the Chancellor.
“With so many children with special educational needs (SEN) struggling to get the right school placement, the additional capital funding for specialist places is welcome but needs to be matched with the revenue funding for the teachers, therapists and other specialists to staff new places. And because most children with SEND are educated in mainstream schools, they will not benefit from this funding.
“We are pleased to see additional funding for Family Hubs in England, provided that they are set up in a way that ensures they have the capacity and capability to meet the specific needs of families with disabled children. And we welcome increased funding for local councils; school budgets; and education recovery. However, without ring-fencing, it is not clear how the longstanding under-funding of health and social care for disabled children will be addressed, and how disabled children and families will be supported to recover from the impact of the pandemic, like missed therapies for example.
“Our research reveals a funding gap of £573 million in disabled children’s social care services. We know that nearly three-quarters of disabled children have seen their progress managing their conditions regress during the pandemic, as already stretched health and care services were further restricted. It is difficult to see how the government expects to meet rising needs, and a backlog of assessments, and ensure that families get the health and care support which they are entitled to.
“Moving forward, the departments for Education, Health and Social Care, and Levelling Up must set out how they will use the funding they’ve received to help disabled children and families recover lost progress, catch-up on the health and care services they’ve missed in the pandemic, and address the long-term shortfalls in support. The long-awaited SEND review must also ensure that every family with a disabled child can access the support they deserve to live a healthy, happy life.”