Children’s social care must not be ignored in funding debate

The Communities Secretary Sajid Javid MP has announced that local authorities will be able to raise an additional £208million through council tax rises to spend on social care during 2017/18 – but children will be excluded from this funding. The additional funds are to be reserved for adult social care spending only and Together for Short Lives is calling for equivalent funding for children’s services.

Children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions and their families rely on lifeline social care services like short breaks for respite, transport, counselling, equipment and home adaptations. Despite this, evidence uncovered by Together for Short Lives has found that 4 out of 5 (81%) local authorities are failing to plan and fund care for children and young people who need palliative care. 1 in 7 (14%) councils are failing to commission short breaks for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. Local authority funding for children’s palliative care charities has fallen dramatically, down by 61% over the last year - only contributing 1% of the money needed.

Shaun Walsh, Director of External Relations at Together for Short Lives, said:

“I am deeply disappointed that the government has not taken the opportunity to address the challenge in social care funding for children with the most complex needs. The government is rightly beginning to recognise the shortfall in adult social care funding in England. However, this new measure fails to address the huge local authority budget cuts which are having a serious impact on the most vulnerable children and families in our society too.

“At Autumn Statement 2015, the government announced a real-terms cut in children’s social care funding, despite demand for social care among seriously ill children and their families rising. The local government settlement was an important chance for ministers to address this, and yet already overstretched families now face the possibility of more scarce care and support. We urge the government to set out how it will address this serious funding challenge.”

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