Cuts to Hampshire disabled children’s service go to consultation

The  Let Us Play Scheme in Fareham stands to lose out with Hampshire County Council's cuts
The Let Us Play Scheme in Fareham stands to lose out with Hampshire County Council's cuts
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A CONSULTATION to decide how to cut money from charities providing respite for families with disabled children is to go ahead, despite fears raised by the organisations affected by it.

Hampshire County Council is looking to shave £1.85m from the £3.2m it sets aside to provide short breaks for children with disabilities and will launch a consultation on Friday.

The proposal, which will be decided by the executive lead member for children’s services, Councillor Keith Mans, will see changes to how respite is provided.

Cllr Mans decided to put the cuts out to a 12-week consultation on Friday, after the idea was called in for scrutiny due to fears it would hinder the charities’ ability to provide services next year by not giving them enough time to prepare for the cuts.

Despite these concerns and a petition containing nearly 2,000 names from the Hampshire Parent Carer Network, Cllr Mans has decided to press ahead with the consultation.

Michala Dominey, from the Hampshire Parent Carer Network, said the network was disappointed that Cllr Mans had not delayed the consultation to give the charities more time.

She said: ‘We pulled out all the stops to try and make him aware of the impact of this decision.’

She encouraged people to take part in the consultation and for them to request a year’s worth of funding is put in place so the charities can prepare.

She said: ‘The best case would be that the council give a transitional period of time to allow the charities to prepare and look at ways to save money and to get used to having a smaller amount of money available.’

Mrs Dominey said the network fears that if the cuts are agreed in January and come into place straight away, that jobs will be at risk as well as the health and development of children,

Cllr Mans said he had ‘listened very carefully’ and thanked everybody for their contributions.

He said: ‘I will take full regard of those contributions, together with representations I have received already, including the petition from the Hampshire Parent Carer Network and the nine recommendations made by task and finish group.

‘I value the wide range of views expressed and I can assure you that I will give them due consideration when making a final decision in January, on the shape of the open access short breaks service from April 2015.’

The consultation starts on Friday and will be online at consultations.hants.gov.uk.