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Special Educational Needs: Public Finance

Question for Department for Education

UIN 44424, tabled on 7 September 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of implementing a disabled children’s innovation fund to help evaluate and provide early-help services to improve outcomes for disabled children and families in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.

Answered on

14 September 2021

We believe it is right for local authorities, who know their areas’ needs best, to determine what services, including early help, are required locally.

Respite care services for disabled children are provided on the basis of an individual assessment of each child and family’s needs, and it is right that this individual focus continues. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we ensured that respite care services for disabled children and their families were allowed to continue to operate. This applied to services which care for children in and away from home. Where parents have a disabled child under the age of 5, they were also able to establish a support bubble with another household to provide respite care.

To support local areas, the government has given over £6 billion in unringfenced funding directly to councils to support them with the immediate and longer-term impacts of COVID-19 spending pressures, including children’s services. We will continue to work with other government departments, including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, to ensure the upcoming Spending Review reflects the needs of children’s services.

In addition to statutory services, we are providing £27.3 million to the Family Fund in financial year 2021-22 to support over 60,000 families on low incomes raising children and young people with disabilities or serious illnesses. Grants can be used for a range of purposes, including family breaks.