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Everything Must Go – Nearly £300k of Savings To Cut From Disabled Families Support

Bristol City Council is consulting on cuts to services for disabled families and children

‘We need to make £273,340 of savings’ Bristol City Council says as it launches a consultation into ‘supportive, family services’ for the parents and carers of disabled children in Bristol.

The savings will be from the budget for short breaks. This is a service which allows parents and carers to have time out from their caring responsibilities. The short breaks also gives children and young people with additional needs and/or disabilities the opportunity to go to fun activities and try new things.

Short breaks in the city are either run by Bristol City Council or external organisations they fund. Now, the council is looking to make the savings for the financial year 2024/25.

Changes to services have already been set in motion. The Bristol Autism Project was recently forced to hold fire on a chargeable membership scheme after it was pointed out that they had not consulted on the change.

The council could also find themselves legally challenged on cuts that decimates the service, as short breaks are legally required to be provided as a service for families with disabled children. The council might find themselves in hot water with the city’s Send campaigners who would be looking at the Children Act 1989, the Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children Regulations 2011, the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, the Children and Families Act 2014, the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

Bristol City Council has ‘identified’ areas where savings can be made. An internal review found savings of £144,923 through reviewing staffing structures and contractual arrangements to make them ‘more efficient’. The council says they ‘do not think this savings proposal is likely to mean major changes to the service the council provides.’

Discontinuing the residential holiday short breaks service would save £75,000. After the previous provider stopped running the service in March 2022, the council has been unable to find anyone else to run the service.

Even with these services cut back, the council are asking for people to help them decide where to cut a further £53,417 from the support services for disabled families.

Varying options have been put forward which could see all services affected or just some areas. A cut of £53,417 could be made proportionally or with budget reductions across all of the system. Or the cuts could come from specific departments like the Inclusion Service.

Alternatives would see a £26,709 cut to the budgets of a combination of the Inclusion Service, Targeted Short Breaks or Specialist Short Breaks.

Whichever option the council ultimately chooses to go with will see a huge impact on what support will be available to disabled families in the future.

The consultation will be running until 22 January 2024 after which the feedback will be used to help make the final cuts to the short breaks service. This will then go to Cabinet on 06 February 2024 to be passed.

To take part in the consultation:https://www.ask.bristol.gov.uk/short-breaks-consultation-2023?fbclid=IwAR0Z835C7k1ZJQXobgzwsswUpyWcaMPNbQevoMRJ8vSrqVsWFEhJZ_TqioM

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