Economic research by the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) – a coalition of 60 charities – has shown that there is a £1.5 billion funding gap for services needed by disabled children.
Richard Kramer vice-chair of Disabled Children’s Partnership and CEO of Sense, said: “There are over one million disabled children in the UK, 33% 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.”
DCP’s 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.
A BBC One Panorama show, Fighting for my Child, that was shown last week highlighted the harsh reality that many families in the UK are facing due to cuts to funding and services. The emotional documentary followed three families who have young children who have complex health needs and shone a light on the difficult situations that these parents have to deal with on a daily basis.
Panorama sent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all the Local Authorities in England and of the 84 that responded, 46% reported a reduction in respite funding. This is clearly having a direct effect on families who use these services and as a result will be having an adverse affect on their mental health also.
Jordan Gadbury and Ashley Downes from Lincolnshire, who featured in the show, are parents to 3-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.”
Richard Kramer 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.”