St Albans mum calls on government to fund short breaks and respite services for families with disabled children

Disabled parking sign

Disabled parking sign - Credit: Archant

A mum-of-four from St Albans is backing calls from charities for the government to commit to funding for short breaks and respite services for families with disabled children.

Henrietta Brooks, who has four children aged 12, 10, nine and seven - the youngest of whom has a disability - said that since 2011/12, local authorities’ cuts to respite service spending had meant that she has found it more and more difficult to access short breaks.

She said: “Short breaks are vital for my family. We are entitled to 40 hours of annual respite through the short breaks offered locally - this is the only respite care we have as we do not have family support.

“The respite service enables our daughter to have time away from her family in order to make friends and enjoy a different environment whilst being given the care and one-to-one support she needs.”

Amanda Batten, a board member for the charity Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM), said that respite services saved the government tens of millions of pounds and added “Short breaks must remain a priority for local authorities but they need the necessary funding to protect this essential service.”

According to Freedom of Information requests to local authorities across the country, EDCM say that 75 per cent have cut their short break provisions - some by as much as 26 per cent.

EDCM is calling on the government to pledge a minimum of £800 million for short breaks over the next four years.