Since 2011, local authorities have been under a duty to provide a range of short breaks services and to publish a local Short Breaks Duty Statement showing what services are available, how they are responding to the needs of local parents and carers, and how short breaks can be accessed, including any eligibility criteria. Local authorities are required to consult with local parents and carers while producing this statement. Local authorities are responsible for funding this short breaks provision.
60% of local authorities who responded to a survey on the implementation of the SEND reforms in May 2016 said they planned to spend the same on short breaks provision in 2016-17 as they did in 2015-16, with 11% planning on spending more. 73% said they had consulted families on any planned changes to short breaks services. The Government is able to oversee how much local authorities have spent on short breaks provision through authorities’ annual section 251 returns. This information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/section-251-2016-to-2017
The Department offers support and challenge to local authorities to help make sure they meet all of their statutory requirements on SEND, and that quality of provision continues to improve. There are also opportunities through the new Ofsted/Care Quality Commission SEND inspections framework for local areas to consider how well they are providing for the education, health and care needs of those with SEND, including their need for short breaks services.
Between April 2015 and March 2016, we awarded £250,555 to the Short Breaks Partnership (a consortium made up of Contact a Family, the Council for Disabled Children, Action for Children, and KIDS) to provide information and advice to those involved in designing, commissioning, providing, and taking up short breaks for disabled children.