Respite care provision becomes legal duty

By Neil Puffett

| 01 April 2011

A duty on local authorities to provide breaks from caring for families with disabled children comes into force today (1 April), giving legal protection to those seeking breaks from caring.

Duty on short break provision comes into force today

The legislative change has been heralded as a victory by charity Every Disabled Child Matters, which had previously raised concerns that some local authorities were spending money meant for short breaks on other services.

Christine Lenehan, EDCM board member, said: "We warmly welcome the introduction of this duty, as it will ensure that local authorities and families have a greater understanding of what short breaks services should be provided.

"We know that the best local authorities have recognised this as a driver for investment.

"However, we are concerned that some local areas are risking legal challenge by reducing budgets for disabled children’s services.

"We urge authorities to ensure that they are properly resourced to meet their legal duty with respect to disabled children.

"In addition, we urge the government to be mindful of the pressures on local authorities' budgets, and to consider the issue of local authority resources as part of the consultation on their Support and Aspiration green paper on SEN and disability."

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