Councillor Patricia Stallard, Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services and Young People, commented: “The views of all Hampshire residents are important to us. We most especially want to make sure that those who could be directly affected by the proposed changes - children and young people with disabilities, those who care for them and Short Break Activity providers - are aware of this consultation and the opportunity to have their say.”
Through the Short Break Activities Programme, parents and carers of children and young people with disabilities can take part in education, training courses and leisure pursuits; or take the chance to catch up on day-to-day tasks or other activities to meet the needs of other children in the family. Breaks are provided in the evenings, at weekends and during school holidays.
Residents’ feedback is being invited on a range of proposals for how the Short Break Activities Programme could operate after 31 March 2021. Some of the proposals could help The County Council’s Children’s Services Department to make annual savings of up to £696,000. Others are aimed at improving the Programme, while making the best use of available funding.
The proposals include:
- Reducing the overall grant for providing Short Break Activities;
- Only accepting funding applications that meet the core Short Break Activity priorities;
- Introducing a two-tier Gateway Card scheme
- Commissioning Short Break Activities through an external grant-giving body;
- And, redesigning the Community Buddy Scheme.
Specialist services provided for children with assessed social care needs are not included in this consultation.
Anyone who would like to take part in the consultation will have until 11:59 pm on Sunday 31 May 2020 to make their views known.
Before completing the response form, people are strongly encouraged to read the information pack which provides the background to, and details of, the proposals. Both the information pack and response form can be found online at www.hants.gov.uk/shortbreakconsultation
A number of information and drop-in events will be held across the Hampshire local authority area during the consultation period, and there will be two virtual sessions on Facebook Live. Dates, times and venues can be found on pages 6 and 7 of the consultation information pack and on the consultation web page.
In addition to the Short Break Activities Programme, Hampshire County Council’s Children’s Services department provides a variety of specialist support services, such as care support and overnight respite to children and young people who have been assessed by a social worker as having unmet social care needs. At any one time, around 600 children and young people in Hampshire access these services. While these specialist services form part of the overall range of Short Breaks services, they are not included within the scope of this consultation.
Balancing the budget
Hampshire County Council anticipates that it will have to reduce its spending by at least an extra £80 million by April 2021, to deliver a balanced budget. This is due to reductions in Government funding and growing demand for council services, especially statutory services. The County Council is required by law to deliver a balanced budget and cannot plan to spend more than is available. A combination of measures will be needed to address the budget shortfall, including increases in Council Tax and delivering savings from services.