To ask Her Majesty's Government what mechanisms they have in place to ensure that local authorities meet their statutory duty to provide short breaks for the carers of disabled children.
Since 2011, local authorities have been under a duty to provide a range of short breaks services. This requires them to consult upon and publish a short breaks duty statement. This should set out what is available locally, how to access these services, and any eligibility criteria.
To support this, the department made £800 million available in grants between April 2011 and March 2015, plus £80 million of capital funding to support new projects. The department offers support and challenge to help ensure local authorities meet their statutory requirements on special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The department has funded innovative grants that promote best practice for delivering services; and continues to consider how we can best support local authorities who are working to deliver sustainable short breaks provision.
The government is able to oversee how much local authorities have planned to spend 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 (see attached).
Departmental surveys such as the Children’s Services Omnibus gather information on SEND services provided by local authorities, including short breaks.
There are also opportunities through the new Ofsted and Care Quality Commission SEND inspection frameworks for local areas to consider how well they are providing for the education, health and care needs of those with SEND. This includes their need for short breaks services. A thematic ‘one year on’ report published by the two inspectorates in October 2017 found that ‘children and young people who have SEND and their families typically had good access to high-quality short breaks’ (attached).