A public consultation is to be launched into the way short breaks for disabled children are provided in Hampshire it has been announced.
But a group of parent carers say they are disappointed that recommendations to protect the service in the short term have not been adopted
Hampshire County Council executive lead for Children’s services Cllr Keith Mans made the decision on Friday having attended a select committee meeting earlier in the week when he heard representations by mums from Hampshire Parent Carers Network and Parent Voice.
Members of the cross-party committee had argued in favour of mitigating strategies and even complete retention of a service described as vital to many hard -pressed parents with disabled children.
But HPCN say that Cllr Mans has not taken on board recommendations from the committee which would protect the budget while other options for the funding and provision of short breaks can be developed .
The County Council has to find £26 million worth of savings form the children’s services budget as a result of cuts to the grant they receive from central government and the Children’s services department is seeking to reduce the £3.2m budget for discretionary short break activities by £1.85m – which campaigners describe as disproportionate.
Thousands of Hampshire families benefit from the scheme that funds fun activities for disabled youngsters while providing respite for their families.
Sharon Smith of HPCN told Eastleigh News:
“We hope to continue to work with HCC during the consultation to come up with solutions to protect services as this is our ultimate goal.
“We want to ensure families are not left without vital support and will do everything in our power to protect vulnerable children with disabilities.
“We need HCC to start to provide data and monitoring and we hope that they will still provide a cushion of additional funding for 1 or 2 years to allow the short breaks market to prepare for the cuts in funding, rather than turning it off overnight and leaving people to fend for themselves.”
The 12 week public consultation will start on 8 September and a final decision is expected on 21 January 2015.