£1.5 billion annual fund needed to adequately provide for disabled children

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A UK coalition of more than 60 charities has published economic research showing a £1.5 billion funding gap for services needed by disabled children.

The investment shortfall and its consequences highlighted by the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) are the focus of a 30-minute BBC Panorama programme Fighting for my Child first shown on 16 July.

Amanda Batten, Chair of DCP and CEO of UK charity Contact, said:

There are more than one million disabled children in the UK, 33 per cent more than a decade ago. Yet we know that fewer disabled children than ever before are currently getting support. Our research shows there is a funding gap in disabled children’s services which means tens of thousands are missing out on vital help that enables them to do things other children take for granted like eat, talk, leave the house, have fun and attend school.

Tonight’s Panorama will highlight the consequences of this — families at their wits end having to go to court to fight for vital support and up against a system with limited and dwindling resources. That’s why we are urgently calling on the government to plug the £1.5 billion gap — just 0.2 per cent of total government spending — to ensure disabled children and their families have a decent quality of life.

The research, carried out by Development Economics, found that there is a £1.1 billion shortfall in funding for health services for disabled children and £433 million extra needed for social care.

Jordan Gadbury and Ashley Downes from Lincolnshire, who feature in the Panorama programme, are parents to three-year-old Charlie-Lewis Downes. Charlie-Lewis has a rare genetic disorder and is the only one in the world to be documented with an extra rare mutation of the syndrome, a fused skull. The programme highlights the difficulties Charlie Lewis’ family have in getting support for him.

Jordan and Ashley said:

We are doing everything we can to give Charlie a life that other children take for granted. But we feel like we are on our own, surviving with no support. We are not asking for much, just a little bit of help. That’s why we are supporting the Disabled Children’s Partnership campaign calling for more money to be allocated to disabled children’s services.

Batten added:

Families with disabled children are often hidden away from public view and struggling under the pressure of providing round the clock care, 365 days a year. 

When families reach crisis point, they are forced to use unplanned, emergency services which are hugely expensive to the taxpayer. It makes no sense to deny families of disabled children the services they need — doing so means storing up even bigger problems for the future.

 The DCP says an annual £1.5 billion Disabled Children’s Fund would:

  • ensure disabled children and their families have the support in place when they need it, which will in turn prevent them from reaching breaking point.
  • enable local authorities and the NHS to meet their statutory duties and improve the availability and quality of services.
  • support parents and young disabled children to work and succeed at school.

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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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