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£340 million to improve the lives of disabled children

£340 million to improve the lives of disabled children

HM TREASURY News Release (58/07) issued by The Government News Network on 21 May 2007

An ambitious package of policies to support disabled children and their families was announced today by Economic Secretary Ed Balls and Education Minister Lord Adonis, as they published the report Aiming High for Disabled Children: Better Support for Families. Part of the wider Policy Review of Children and Young People.

Recognising the critical role that public services can play in promoting the chances of disabled children, the Review commits the Government to boosting the provision of vital services and giving parents of disabled children a real choice in how they are delivered, underpinned by over £340 million of investment.

The Review sets out clear action across health, social services and education, to provide a better coordinated approach to service provision, and enhance equality and opportunity for disabled children and their families. It focuses on three priority areas: access and empowerment, response services and timely suppor, and improving quality and capacity of services.

The Review will announce:

* £280m over the next three years to fund short breaks for disabled children, enabling them to experience new things and for their parents to have a break. This works out as an extra 40,000 fortnightly short breaks for severely disabled children and their families.

* £35m to fund a pilot project to provide accessible childcare, promote training, and tackle other barriers to accessing childcare. Accessible childcare is vital to help parents, and to improve disabled children's social, behavioural and educational development.

* £19m for a Transition Support Programme to promote intensive, wrap around support, and consolidate person-centred planning at the critical transition to adulthood, a key point in the lives of disabled young people.

* £5m to allow parents of disabled children to get involved in shaping services at a local level, including through parents forums to ensure that disabled children and their families are supported and empowered.

* Radical reform in the coordination and provision of community equipment and wheelchairs to maximise disabled children's mobility, allowing them to access schools, leisure facilities and other services more easily (e.g. making access to equipment faster and providing more choice).

* To make disabled children a priority at a local and national level, the Government will develop a national indicator as part of the PSA set, underpinned by a "core offer" to help disabled young people and their parents understand what support they can get and how to access it across local services.

* To prevent interventions coming too late at important stages of a disabled child's life or development, the Government will provide specific resource for evaluation and benchmarking good practice on early intervention for disabled children and their families as part of the work of the new Centre for Excellence for Children and Family Services.

Ed Balls said:

"The Government believes that every child matters. This Review will take us closer to achieving our aim of ensuring that every disabled child can have the best possible start in life, and the support they and their families need to make equality of opportunity a reality, allowing each and every child to fulfill their potential.

"Today we announce a set of actions that will make a real difference to all disabled children and their families, with £340m over the next three years to improve vital services that will enhance their lives, underpinned by reform to make disabled children a national priority.

"This Government's long-term goal is to transform the chances of disabled children and their families. This can't be done overnight - there is no magic wand to wave. But today's report makes a very significant step forward to meeting that goal, and will make a real difference over the coming years."

Lord Adonis, said:

"The recommendations in this Review are going to transform the way that services are delivered to disabled children and their families. Increased numbers of short breaks for disabled children will give them the opportunity to have the sort of experience that other children have, and will make an enormous difference to thousands of families. I thank all the young people, their families and the stakeholders whose hard work and participation has helped bring about this review."

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. A joint HM Treasury and Department for Education and Skills report, Aiming High for Disabled Children: Better Support for Families has examined how to improve outcomes and life chances of disabled children through the development of effective and accessible services for disabled children (0-19) and their families.

2. It is part of the wider Policy Review of Children and Young People, with the purpose of assessing progress made to improve outcomes and what further action needs to be taken as part of the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review.

3. The £340 million of investment in services for disabled children forms part of the 2.5 per cent a year rise in education spending in England announced in the 2006 Budget.

4. There are around 570,000 disabled children in England. Around 100,000 disabled children are severely disabled.

5. The Review consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, including disabled children and young people, their parents, the voluntary sector, professionals and parliamentarians through a series of Parliamentary Hearings.

6. Non-media enquiries should be addressed to the Treasury Correspondence and Enquiry Unit on 020 7270 4558, or by e-mail to public.enquiries@hm-treasury.gov.uk

7. The report Aiming High for Disabled Children: Better Support for Families is available on the Treasury website at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/spending_review/spend_csr07/reviews/cyp_review/cypreview_index.cfm If you would like Treasury press releases to be sent to you automatically by e-mail you can subscribe to this service from the press release site on the website.