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Families: Respite Care

Question for Department for Education

UIN 76049, tabled on 16 November 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps his Department has taken to ensure that families with disabled children can access short breaks and respite care that meets those children's health needs.

Answered on

19 November 2021

Respite care services, including short breaks, for disabled children and their families are provided based on an individual assessment of each child and family’s needs.

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

This year, councils have access to £51.3 billion to deliver their core services, including a £1.7 billion grant for social care. The government has also given over £6 billion in funding directly to councils to support them with the immediate and longer-term impacts of COVID-19 spending pressures, including children’s services.

The department will continue to work with other government departments, including the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to ensure the needs of children’s services are reflected.

Where a child has complex health needs or is in receipt of palliative or end-of-life care, respite provision may be appropriately delivered by health providers, including children’s hospices. Local authorities have a statutory duty to assess the social care needs of disabled children and young people, and to provide respite care where necessary. Where it is appropriate, local authorities can fund respite care provided by hospices, either as a short-term stay or as a service provided to the child or young person in the family home by the hospice team. Local authorities and health commissioners regularly liaise to plan and commission the most appropriate package of respite care for the children and young people with life-limiting or life-threatening condition in their area.

In addition to statutory services, the department is 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.